Why You Don’t Need Passion


This is a theme that I have run across TWICE now in a week. Once was enough to get me thinking, but twice is enough to make me believe it.

1. I watched an interview with Cal Newport, author of the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
Cal boldly argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice and says “Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”

2. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love–recently spoke out against passion as well. She say’s

“You spend a lot of your life having people tell you to follow your passion. It’s nice advice, it’s heart-warming advice, it’s great advice — if you happen to have one that is very clear and obvious,” she says.

But what happens if you don’t have an easily identifiable passion? Hearing the advice to follow it often leaves you with more frustration than you started with.

“Sometimes it feels cruel and all it does is make you feel even worse and more left out, because you’re like, ‘I would if I knew what it was!'” Gilbert says. “If you’re in that position right now… forget about passion.”

Instead, she suggests following something much more attainable. “Follow your curiosity,” Gilbert says. “Passion is rare; passion is a one-night-stand. Passion is hot, it burns. Every day, you can’t access that.”

Even though she describes herself as a passionate person, Gilbert insists she doesn’t feel passionate every, single day. What she does feel, though, is curiosity.

“Follow it,” she says. “It might lead you to your passion or it might not. You might get nothing out of it at all except a beautiful, long life where all you did was follow your gorgeous curiosity. And that should be enough too.” -original source

I think both Cal and Elizabeth are right on the money. Chasing your curiosity and putting in the hard work to become excellent at something is far more sustainable and usually a much more trustworthy guide.

What do you think? Would you rather be curious or passionate?

bwselfie Brooke Snow is a photographic artist and delights in the pursuit of a meaningful life. Sign up for her FREE e course “Living A Thriving Life” to learn more about how to find true balance in your life. Brooke lives in Northern Utah with her calm husband, adventurous 4 year old son and practically perfect new baby girl.

10 Responses

  1. Thank you for your post Brooke! I’ve been praying for passion for the past month and feeling lost, now I will be following my curiosity. Thank you!!

    1. Hooray! thank you for your comment Chris! I am thrilled that this helps to give you some direction. Passion indeed is a hard “starting spot” 🙂 Curiousity is so much easier in being sustainable. When I think of passion, for some reason in my head I interpret it as a ‘pinnacle’ or climax of how I feel about something. I’m glad that curiosity helps me feel like there is still room to grow 🙂

    1. So true Jen! I remember when you first started into film it was merely curiosity. It’s amazing what you have done with it since then! My guess is that you would have never thought a few years ago that you would be as far deep into film as you are now 🙂 Blessed, blessed curiosity 🙂

  2. Luckily for me, I am passionately curious about…just about everything. It has led me to how-to’s when I need to learn a new skill, fascinating information about people, places, ideas and things, lovely artwork, inspiring discussions, and many other things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy!

  3. Hi Brooke, I love your perspective – through the lens and through words. Thanks for sharing not only the how-to’s of photography, but also the inspiration, frustration, and process toward growth and creativity. I’m glad to see your blog posts – engaging, relevant, and compelling. I shared this post with my 17 year old son who is applying to college and hears the phrase “follow your passion” all too often – he is relieved to know that his natural curiosity is a powerful ally.

    I am sending my wonderful community of photo friends to you by way of my blog post today.

    1. Oh hooray! Follow your curiosity is especially good for teens 🙂 The pressure to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life RIGHT NOW is sometimes overwhelming! Thank you for sharing!

      1. And I am one of the ones, whom Dear Donna sent over. So happy she did. I love a blog, which deals in thinking. 🙂

        Thank you.

        Happy Nov. weekend!

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