Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Career advice upended
Heh. Mike Rowe, the guy who does the show Dirty Jobs, has a different take on some advice we've all heard:
In the long history of inspirational pabulum, "follow your passion" has got to be the worst. Even if this drivel were confined to the borders of the cheap plastic frames that typically surround it, I'd condemn the whole sentiment as dangerous, not because it's cliché, but because so many people believe it. Over and over, people love to talk about the passion that guided them to happiness. When I left high school--confused and unsure of everything--my guidance counselor assured me that it would all work out, if I could just muster the courage to follow my dreams. My Scoutmaster said to trust my gut. And my pastor advised me to listen to my heart. What a crock.This guy sees jobs that you can be pretty sure were not the end point for someone who was following their passion: sheep castrater, manure collector, sewer repairperson, and a whole bunch of jobs that need to get done regardless. His observation is that people seem happy enough in these jobs, even so.
He attributes this to the reverse of the advice: "The happiest people I've met over the last few years have not followed their passion at all--they have instead brought it with them." So it's not what you do that makes you happy, it's your attitude toward it. Which ends up converging, I think, with the advice he's so dismissive of. Whether it's because you are doing something you have a "passion" for, or whether you can bring "passion" to anything you do, the result is the same: you take an interest in and pride in your work.
Jnan Dash has a great thought that I think touches on this:
Stress is directly proportional to the delta between who you are and who you are projecting to be.It's not that having a "dirty job" makes you happy, or that having a cushy one does. It's all about your relationship to your work and whether it fits you or (his point) whether you can fit yourself to it.
As the author Stephen King has put it:
Ask yourself frequently, "Am I having fun?" The answer needn't always be yes. But if it's always no, it's time for a new project or a new career.