Popular Advice: Don’t Follow Your Passion

I’ve been hearing and reading some popular advice lately, ‘Don’t follow your passion‘. This advice is built upon the supposition that people will blindly follow their passion, only to learn that they don’t have what it takes to achieve it. An example is given of the TV show American Idol, where singer contestants strongly believe they have talent, but are merely fooling themselves, and are crushed when they are rejected by the judges.

If you read my other articles, my advice has always been to figure out what you love to do, AND what you are naturally good at, and try to combine those two somehow. If you only go by what you love to do, yes you may be disappointed, that’s why you have to figure out what you are naturally good at, and sometimes you may have to be harshly critical of yourself.

I thought I was good enough as an artist until an artist’s representative bluntly told me I wasn’t good enough for him to represent. That was my wake up call, and I resolved to improve my skills. But I didn’t give up. I also didn’t improve overnight, or become successful overnight. It took at least 10 years, and people who knew me probably didn’t see much promise or progress.

But after 10 years of trying to improve, and seeking opportunities, I eventually got the work I wanted with Disney. Then it took another 10 years to achieve a level of skill and success that I could be proud of.

So yes, passion isn’t everything. But it’s a good starting point that I believe most people don’t even consider or think is possible. Success is not guaranteed, but it is possible.