‘Follow your passion’, aptitude, skill and earning potential

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This is probably the millionth post on this topic: ‘should you follow your passion?’ I don’t claim to say anything new here but nevertheless would like to offer my perspective. 

As with everything else in life, context is important. I guess folks  bring up this topic in the context of a career. To go through life and work without a passion is not so uncommon I feel. Most people are like to label what they like intensely – a sport, movies or music  as a passion. 

It’s great to see people (especially at two ends of the age spectrum) be passionate about something. But follow your passion automatically assumes that it will result in a productive or fruitful career or even a vocation. 

The famous quote from TV personality Mike Rowe, ‘Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you’ is a much better perspective. However, I don’t know if it’s possible to ‘bring passion’ towards everyday, mundane chores and jobs which we all cannot avoid whether at home or work. Can you do laundry or fill time sheets with passion? I doubt it. 

In my view, 4 aspects are to be considered: 

Passion: forget the dictionary definition, we can see or feel passion when we have it or see it in others. One can be passionate about stamp collection, paintings, Formula1 Racing or football. But that doesn’t automatically mean one’s good at ‘playing’ or ‘doing’ what one’s passionate about with a view to making a career out of it or have the chops to be good at it. 

Aptitude: this is an innate, natural ability some people are blessed with. It could be for drawing, teaching . It reflects a flair or inkling to do a certain kind of work at a certain level of accomplishment 

Skill: this reflects an ability to execute a task probably learnt and practiced. It may come from repeatedly doing a task so as to master it over time. 

Earning potential: if all of the above result in a paying career that’s a happy place to be in, but it’s all so rare. Most people take up a career because the job was available or considered lucrative in terms of potential for growth or demand. Maybe I am biased but those who opt for say, advertising usually do it out of interest, love or passion for the craft & industry. Yes, there are those who merely see it as just another job for sustenance. That could also be said about law, medicine, accountancy or any other career option. 

At a work place, I feel one can do one’s job with passion yet be in a profession which is not necessarily a passion. Do folks in the finance or admin department of companies have a passion for their job of controlling expenses, auditing or whatever it is that their role entails? If they do, that’s great, but that’s unlikely to be the situation. But having chosen to make a career in Accounting, HR, Sales or Actuaries one can do what’s expected with a degree of passion. 

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