In June 2005, Steve Jobs took the podium at Stanford Stadium to give the commencement speech to Stanford’s graduating class. Wearing jeans and sandals under his formal robe, Jobs addressed a crowd of 23,000 with a short speech that drew lessons from his life. About a third of the way into the address, Jobs offered the following advice: You’ve got to find what you love…. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle.

When he finished, he received a standing ovation.

Now, this is where I want to introduce the most misleading advice in the name of passion…

Follow Your Passion and Create The Career You Love

Steve Jobs — a guru of iconoclastic thinking — put his stamp of approval on an immensely appealing piece of popular career advice:

The key to occupational happiness is to first figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion.

What most people don’t know about Steve Jobs, in the time he started Apple Computer his actions were hardly the actions of someone passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. In other words, in the months leading up to the start of his visionary company, Steve Jobs was something of a conflicted young man, seeking spiritual enlightenment and dabbling in electronics only when it promised to earn him quick cash. Read full story here: Do Like Steve Jobs Did: Don’t Follow Your Passion

In the book ‘So Good, They Can’t Ignore You’, Cal Newport gives the following 3 conclusions from studying and negating passion hypothesis from closer look:

  1. Career passions are rare – most “passions” are really hobbies
  2. Passion takes time – a study showed that the strongest predictor for someone seeing their work as a calling, was number of years spent at the job. i.e. the more experience the person had, the more likelihood was to love their work.
  3. Passion is a side effect of Mastery – the better you get at something, the more it becomes a “passion”

How do we find work that we develop passion for?

There are 2 different approaches to thinking about work:

  1. The passion mindset: a focus on what value your job offers you.
  2. The craftsmen mindset: a focus on how much value you are producing at your job.

Most people adopt the passion mindset, but the craftsmen mindset is the foundation of creating/finding work that you love.

What’s wrong with Passion Mindset?
  1. When you focus on what your work offers you, it makes you hyper aware of the things that you don’t like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness. Especially true for entry level positions, which wouldn’t involve challenging projects and autonomy, these come later.
  2. The deep questions driving the passion mindset, “Who am I?” and “What do I truly love?” are essentially impossible to confirm. Is this who I really am or truly love, are rarely a clear Yes or No responses.

In other words the passion mindset is gonna keep you perpetually unhappy and confused.

Craftsmen Mindset

There’s something liberating about the craftsman mindset: It asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right,” and instead put your head down and plug away at getting really damn good. No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it — and the process won’t be easy.

Put aside the question of whether your job is your true passion, and instead turn your focus toward becoming extremely valuable.

Regardless of how you feel about your job right now, adopting the craftsman mindset will be the foundation on which you’ll build a compelling career.

Adopt the craftsman mindset first and then the passion follows.

If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).

How to Adopt the Craftsmen Mindset?

Constantly push your boundaries

Constantly seek new ways to get better. It could be anything that’s related to your ideal work — reading books, blogs, watching webinars, attending seminars implementing & testing new learnings etc,

You see, people get from average to good very quickly at first, but once they get comfortable, they stop getting better because they are not stretching themselves.

We need to train ourselves to constantly get better through pushing ourselves. Identify a clear, specific goal based on something that you’re not quite able to do yet, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to get there.

Consistency

Every time we have to learn something new, there is a burst of inspiration that gets us through the first month or so, and then we start to slow down. The most successful people are the ones who are most consistent.

Time block your ‘craft practice’ everyday. Once its in your calendar, just dive into it everyday(even if it is for an hour). I noticed some resistance for myself when I was starting this process, but forcing me to ‘just start’ everyday at the same time, got me in the habit to not even letting my doubting/questioning mind come in this process.

This has a compounding effect on whatever you want to get better over time. You will be surprised to see how fast you grow in a few months and it will keep getting better.

Honest Feedback

Even if it means to destroy what you previously thought was good.

Cal Newport suggests to use money as an indicator of the value of your skill. You know you’re getting better at something if more money is being offered to you in your job or business.

Be patient

Craftsmen mindset offers a long-term payoff in creating Mission-oriented and Successful career. We have to be patient and consistent with the efforts.

I had been a firm believer of Following your passion in life, until I came across this information. It shifted my paradigms in the way I view passion and especially in my work. This compelled me to share it as there are many young people unsatisfied in their work because they believe they aren’t passionate about it, and don’t know how to find work that is fulfilling to them, which they can call their Passion or Calling.

I hope this inspires you to go on the path to create mission-driven work for yourself that you can call your passion.

Love,
Gautam

Footnotes

This post is completely inspired by the book ‘So Good, They Can’t Ignore You’, by Cal Newport. Highly recommended book for anyone who wants to go more in-depth in what it means to be passionate about your work, having mission-driven career and HOW to get there.

Let me know what your thoughts on finding/creating career passion, this does start very interesting conversations.