Following Your Passion is Total Bullshit

Author Cal Newport breaks into established thoughts

It was perhaps at the beginning of last month that I felt I was in so much pressure that I almost ended up hating what I had grown to like over the years, and in that moment in time I was frustrated, angry and in a state where depression could have easily kicked in. It was easy, at that time, to conclude that it was the very fact that I liked what I did but wasn’t really passionate about it that created such a mess in the first place. 

Was aerospace really the right choice? Am I just wasting my time?

This led to me to the time tested, proven formula of following my passion. If you look at it, there are just about one or two things that I feel I am reasonably confident at and one of them is writing. Or blogging in other sense. I love the fact that I can express myself in words the exact way I want people to see me, without bias, without discrimination, without color, without sex, in a very straight forward basic word to word way. The fact that I feel good about my writing encourages me to pursue a career on it, however, as I am an adult and have to think about things like feeding myself and paying my f**king bills and getting through graduate school, that would be a very bad option indeed.

During those confusing times, I often look up to my role models. Let’s face it, everybody needs them and that’s how you try to figure out what things in life they nailed and what they screwed and accordingly make changes to yours. It doesn't always work, it's not foolproof but when it works, it’s pretty fantastic.

I am, in a sense, very fortunate to have my parents to look up to and what they have been able to achieve in life and although I will probably pussy out and not tell them this exact thing, I do really admire them. It’s a measure of how successful you can be at something if you put in the hours and the diligence as they do. It’s quite fascinating that I have their genes while every single direction points towards the fact that I don’t.

This is where my logic got a little twisted. What I see with both my parents is the level of passion they have for what they do. For me, the only thing that could possibly explain this is that they were passionate about it to begin with. My dad always told me stories about how he was building shit that I found impossible for me to dream about and that led me to a clear misunderstanding that engineering was always what he would end up doing.

I always thought he was born to become one. He was passionate about his stuff and all he had to do was follow his passion.

What bullshit.

I have been trying desperately hard these to figure out what makes people click and like what they do and after a couple of after-work hours researching, I stumbled upon this Cal Portman dude, an author, who basically blogs about life in general. What he said both on his blogs and in his talks has effectively induced a massively elephant-eque paradigm shift in the way I think.

Because all he said was that following your passion was bullshit.

I was like wait a minute. That’s not what I learnt.  Let’s see what he has to say..

He basically talks two things in general; one of deliberate practice where you actually sit down and do things that you hate to do but eventually would lead you somewhere and throw that passion thing right out of the window.

His talk here is one that is very intriguing; you might want to spend some time on this and follow up right up till the Q&A because he also integrates the current education system and why it’s actually important to take formal classes.

The ideas really do strike a chord with me. The funny thing is that this was right in front of me all this time. My mom is really good at what she does and there’s no doubt about it. Just take a moment to think about this; in early absence of my dad, my mom basically did all the dirty work of raising a notoriously stupid kid all the way through his teenage years. The fact that I am here speaks volumes that she practically raised a mishap to become relatively competent adult who still has trouble understanding exactly how she managed to do that. But that’s another story. What I want to narrate here is her story.

From what I have got so far, my mom was never born to be the person she is. No. In her first architecture class she was told to pack her bag and leave because she couldn’t even hold the drawing pencil correctly. I am not even sure if she was soooo into architecture anyways.

All she did was deliberate practice. She didn’t necessarily have to be passionate about it but she worked on becoming good at what she did. And it’s usually very ugly and frustrating path but she continued and leveraged herself to a position that she holds now.

Same for my dad. I am sure he had his days where frustrations would creep in. He is a natural at what he does, there’s no doubt it, but going back to his early days, I am not sure he took up engineering because he thought he was really good at it but with certain circumstances where he ended up being there and working his butts off to be in a position he is in. It helps to be a natural but deliberate practice and diligence was more of a factor.

The conclusion to all of this is to basically choose what you like and head to a position where you can then claim your passion on it. Passion, I guess, is more to do with what follows than what leads.

I mean, what the hell right?

You can check Cal Newport’s website: [HERE]


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