I just saw this intriguing talk by Mike Rowe in which he tries to make a case for the lost world of manual “dirty” skilled labour. I find his thoughts stimulating and inspiring, as someone who is his youth thought about trying to work for a time in manual labour. I also liked the idea that we need to respect every job because it is part of a greater web that makes our lives what they are. The main theme of the talk is Rowe’s realization that he got things wrong and the explanation of what they are.
One of those things is passion. He decides to “attack” the known creed: “follow your passion”. He actually says that it was probably the worst advice he ever got (!). his attack is done by giving examples of people who did not follow their passion but are doing great, like a pig farmer who collects food scraps from casinos in Las-Vegas because people’s leftovers are good food for pigs. He grows huge pigs in twice the normal speed and makes a lot of money while doing something that is good for the environment. Right, he is smelly most of the time, but he is happy and rich. Rowe says, ask that pig farmer – “did you follow your passion?” and he will laugh at you. Rowe goes to give more examples but you get the idea (or you can watch the talk…).
And that got me thinking. Did I get it wrong? In my E-book, I devote a full chapter to passion and its importance in reaching success and happiness. I write a lot in this blogs about how people follow the conventional wisdom without thinking about it, and Rowe’s talk frightened me. Was I following the conventional wisdom here?
After I thought about it I realised that I don’t agree with Rowe. I think “follow your passion” is a very good advice. But I think our disagreement lies in the interpretation we give to the phrase “follow your passion”. While – I think – Rowe interprets “Follow your passion” as “do something you love”, I interpret “Follow your passion” as do whatever you do with passion. In the E-book I describe how in my view, being passionate means three main things: Being interested in what you do, striving for change and improvement and sharing your knowledge.
Now, I don’t know that pig farmer from Las-Vegas, but I am pretty sure, that the moment he went into this industry, he followed some or all three of these rules. This doesn’t mean he loves the pig industry and sees higher calling in it. It just means that he does what he does with passion. And this leads to him being successful.
So, what does “follow your passion” means for you?