The Dirty Truth: Passion Isn’t the Only Ingredient for Success
Although passion is often thought to be a necessary ingredient for success, we all know it’s not the only one. If you’re passionate about handwritten letters, but everyone you know uses email, you may need to adapt to communicate. Likewise, if your passion is autism, but another developmental disorder is what’s getting funded, you’re faced with a choice: Follow your dream or follow the money. Sometimes you need to make hard adjustments to your dream to give it a chance of becoming reality. Sometimes that dream needs a few tweaks to make it as scientifically meaningful and appreciated as it can be.
When Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, was asked why he advises people not to follow their passion, he wrote a long letter in response. “Here’s the ‘dirty truth,’ Stephen,” he writes. “‘Staying the course’ only makes sense if you’re headed in a sensible direction. Because passion and persistence—while most often associated with success—are also essential ingredients of futility.”
If you didn’t have passion, you wouldn’t be in this game. But be smart about it. Even if you have to redirect the flow, make sure your passion takes you somewhere meaningful, instead of stranding you on the shore.