Tradable Passion – What If People Don’t Care Your Passion?

This week we have been discussing the myths of follow your passion adage.
A great recent work that focus on busting this fallacy of passion is Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
It’s a best seller and a notable, fascinating may be a crucial work on the topic of leveraging meaningful work.
The book focuses on becoming excellent at what you do and how to trade that value in the new economy.
This is the point that I’m interested in this article.

Passion vs. Jobs

We all may feel that most people are doing the work they are passionate about.
But it turns out that only a few people around us are having a passionate work.
What makes passionate work different from normal work is, they not only make money, but also helps to have a satisfying and fulfilling work life.
This is a very superficial concept. Following something that you love do not always end up in a fulfilling career. Sometimes it won’t even end up in building a career!
You can take a look at your own family or friends. Most people would not be doing what they were passionate about. All of them might have ended up in doing something else that they may have encountered later in different circumstances of life.
In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal cites a study that interviewed almost 500+ university graduates and among them only less than a 4% identified a passion that had anything to do with their work.
By studies done by University of Montreal and the data available from Canadian Census Data, more than a 75% had their passion in sports arts or music. But the occupations available for such large amount of people is less than a 5%.

Trading the economy

An economic exchange have two ways.

  1. What you want from the economy?
  2. The value you can provide to trade for it.

Following the second part is a more sounder strategy since you probably get more rewarded by it.
In this part, instead of following a pre-defined passion you decide to become so good that you can get to dictate and decide your own professional terms.
It’s an idea of generating a value that can be traded(instead of following an un-tradable passion).
As Chris Guillebeau argues in his $100 startup, every successful business requires the following three

  1. A product or service.
  2. People willing to pay for it, your customers.
  3. A way to get paid.

Your passion should be tradable.
Even if you are passionate about something and have something to sell, unless there is no need for your product in the economy, there is nothing great left for you to be passionate about it. The only thing that matters is -do people want what you’re selling! If they do, you are good to go, if they don’t, it doesn’t matter how much your passion-business jives with your personality profile or prior interests.
You can say you are passionate about eating ice-creams. Until now, nowhere in this world exists an occupation for one such passion!

The Red Herring

When you ask someone what they are passionate about, the common answer would be like writing, dancing, singing, biology, math etc.
This is a biggest mistake people possess when they connect their passion-fantasies with real work.
Those said they have passion on writing would always use that content based passions as a measure to analyze their satisfaction in their work.
It turns out that even if you are passionate about writing and leads a life of writer doesn’t necessarily provide you a fulfilling career.
In many cases it’s not because you have to improve your writing standards but the satisfaction in work life depends on many other factors.
Social scientists have previously found three factors that makes a good work life and it’s surprising that passion is not one among them!

  1. Autonomy.
  2. Control
  3. Connectedness.

Let’s take a look at my blog work.
The satisfaction that I get from doing this is, not from my passion of writing.
For writing such articles I need to read and research many topics with discipline(since I write everyday) and it helps me to build insights about whatever I am writing every single day!
The creative control that, I get to decide what to write and share over my blog and the connection that I am building with my blog readers are the ones that makes my blog work a satisfying effort.
As you can see my passion of writing doesn’t even matter!
PS: Instead of following a vague interest, develop a skill or a value that can be traded in the economy which becomes your passion later!

(Photo by Ian Schneider)