Passion is Overrated

Image by Robert Burress via
Image by Robert Burress via

I’ve got a bone to pick with the passion pushers. Have you heard any of these?

  • You need to identify your passion and go after it.
  • Your passion drives your success
  • Turn your passion into profit
  • Be passionate about your work and others will follow

Etc. etc. Cringe.

Maybe it’s that I have the wrong description of the word. I have an image in my head of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society standing on top of his desk shouting, “Oh Captain, my Captain” to a room full of freaked out prep school boys.

I am picturing eye-popping, sweat-inducing emotion, the like of which I can rarely conjure unless in response to some extreme physical pain (mothers, think “labor”). All those schmaltzy Hollywood films and books and news stories come to mind, the ones about baseball and the driven athlete, and how he hits a home run at just the right moment after what seems a lifetime of sweat, tears, and passionate commitment.

Double, triple cringe.

See, I just can’t relate. I’m a steady Eddie. I do stuff because I decide to do it, probably because I like it, because it’s a responsibility, because it’s the right thing to do, because I got distracted and thought it looked interesting. A gazillion and one reasons for doing a billion and five things, and passion rarely enters that decision making process.

The most important thing, to me, that drives success and creates satisfaction, harmony, profit, and other positive outcomes in life is the decision-making itself. Granted, part of the decision about how to spend your time is what you like to do and what you are good at doing. But to me, liking something and being good at it is not the same thing as passion.

That’s just me. I’ve always liked writing. It pleases me. Words please me. Making stuff up with words pleases me. So I wrote and wrote and wrote, and still write and write and write. And one hopes that the more I do that, the better I’ll get at it. And the better I get, the more I will gain satisfaction from it because not only will I be pleased with the result, but others will as well.

Is that passion? Well, if it means standing up on a desk and “Yalping” … you can have it. Deciding moves beyond passion. Some days I will be filled with inspiration and can’t wait to get into the writing groove. But there are those other days when I’d rather scrub the bathroom floor with my toothbrush than write. Even on those days, though, I write, because I decided a long time ago that this is what I do.

Passion is overrated. Just decide what you’re going to do for the next ten minutes, two days, four weeks, three months, year. And do it. Stop wasting time trying to “find your passion.” Make it your duty to yourself and passion will follow. Sometimes. When it doesn’t, keep going anyway.

There are better ways to know if your decisions are good ones than how passionately you feel about them.


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4 thoughts on “Passion is Overrated

  1. Rosalie Faith Whetstone says:

    I am in deep agreement. When people are passionately wrong in their evaluation of an idea or pursuing their own interest at the cost of everything else, great harm can be done.

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