Following Your Passion? Don’t be Selfish.

Today no less than five articles with the same theme popped up in my feeds. They all proposed that following your passion is a crock leading to false hopes. Many suggested that following passion leads to poverty and enslavement. Others suggested this advice is used by shady players to dupe the naieve. Some writers seem just bitter, others more helpful, but their main point of logic goes something like this:

If I could do what I love with enough passion and succeed I’d be able to succeed sitting on my couch listening to country music and practicing the ukulele. Not going to happen — ever!! Wake up people, you’ve been LIED to!!!

You know what? Point taken. So lets modify the statement about following your passion with one simple addendum. Here’s a fresh take.

Find what you love to do that is not completely self-centered and do it with all your passion to succeed.

Settle down, people, settle down. The term “self centered” is not meant to derogatory, but literal — centered on oneself. Everyone is self-centered in some aspect from time to time and it is healthy. Many things related to the arts are about centering on the self. But can it be your career?

To succeed by doing what you love you have to criticize that thing and ask if it helps anyone else. In media does it educate, inform, or entertain others?

If you have no passion for figuring out what others need, someone else can help you. That someone might be an employer.

That’s Some Sweet Ukulele

The guy sitting on the couch with the ‘uke is enjoying some quality me-time, and good for him. But if his tune isn’t getting to anyone in a way that is unique and provides them with a better quality of life it is a hobby. He can strum his tiny guitar until his fingers bleed. It is self-centered. It improves his life, nobody else’s.

It is okay to be passionate about improving yourself. Everyone has physical and emotional needs. In fact it is the basis of all our commerce. It is why people buy products or consume media — to fill basic self-centered needs. The trick is to put more attention into helping others improve themselves. And yes, people will pay you to do that, sometimes a lot of people will.

Of course there are other factors involved. People have varying circumstances and resources at their disposal that come into play. Regardless of the situation you must find a way to relate your abilities to others needs.

If you pursue your interests for any length of time others have figured out how to supply what you need. Their efforts enable you. Consider that.

How do you become the person providing what others want, rather than only consuming?

If your primary goal is to assist, entertain, inform, educate, rescue, console, distract, or otherwise impact others you need to be out there observing and knowing people. That’s hard to do when centered on self.

When you have an idea you need to be able to capture it and chew on it over time to see if it holds up to scrutiny. That means being able to put yourself in others shoes.

Following scrutiny, you need to be able to set the scope of your idea to your current circumstances. Can you get started right away at that scope? This is where knowing yourself and your capability is helpful.

When your considered efforts begin to gain momentum discipline keeps things going.

At that point are you following your passion? Nothing makes people more passionate than seeing their efforts affect people’s lives.

Maybe your passion is following you.

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