Tag Archives: Malcolm Gladwell

Rethinking the passion quest

1) I haven’t actually kep to my deal of writing here. I have the best excuse: I forgot.
2) I finally actually do have new material to write. It’s going to go against what I up until this point believed. It’s going to explain a lot of why this whole thing of “finding my passion” hasn’t been working.

I get a lot of my material from reading articles. My reading articles activities were down lately. That is, until yesterday. So I’ve read many articles on certain blogs. I want to highlight one blog in particular. And because it’s a new blog I found, I’ve read many articles on it.

The blog I’m talking about is Study Hacks.

I went there, because I read in another article the phrase ” “follow your passion” is bad advice “. Which Cal Newport, the author of Study Hacks, claimed. It made me curious about what he meant and whatever his advice would be instead.

Newport suggests a new definition of passion: “The feeling that arises from have mastered a skill that earns you recognition and rewards.”
He suggests that passion doesn’t simply exist. It is created, cultivated, by doing something an awful lot.

A post I really enjoyed is “Zen and the Art of Investment Banking: When Working Right is More Important than Finding the Right Work“, it tells the tale of Thomas and the lessons he learned. I really recommend reading it. After all I’m not here to retell it.

Let’s think about what this means for a moment. It means that my search has been in vain. It means that it makes sense that my search hasn’t turned anything up yet. What have I deliberately focused on to the point of mastering it? Nothing. (my mom would probably argue being lazy, but I already changed that around)

So following Newport’s theory, if I haven’t mastered anything, how can I be passionate about anything?

I do think there’s a nuance here, I don’t think just mastering any random skill will make you passionate about it. Maybe I can’t shake conventional wisdom, but I still feel you need an interest before you can cultivate passion.

I’m not quite interested in my field of work. If I was, I’d probably take more interest in knowing about the latest developments. To pursue something you need an interest in it. When that interest grows because of that, it can lead to becoming a passion. I can see logic in that reasoning.

Let’s talk about my interest in sewing. I like it, I like the idea, I just haven’t made the effort to do much with it. If I could put my focus on sewing and do that till I’m great at it. Or what Newport said in one of his articles “so good that they can’t ignore you”. Wouldn’t it make sense that I would become passionate about sewing? I enjoy it, I’m great at it. Sounds like a great deal. Of course it will need a lot of hard work and I won’t be happy every second of the way. And that’s okay, because I’d be building passion instead of trying to find it.

This idea also clicks with the book I’m reading: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. He explores what it is that make people outliers, or geniuses, successes. Examples like Bill Gates and the Beatles are used.
What Gladwell discovers is opportunities to practice a lot, an insane amount, and then having mastered a skill at just the right time. This leads to success.

Now consider for a moment the people who love their job, isn’t it often that they’re very good at it as well, and isn’t it often that they worked hard to get where they are?

Then it makes perfect sense to argue that passion is something that is build up. And I’d like to add to that, that it comes from an interest pursued obsessively.

Therefor I want to commit myself to start sewing. To practice till I’m great at it.

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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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