Don’t follow your passion

Fortunate indeed are those who can follow their passion into a profession, yes? Everyone knows that.  The X Factor is predicated on this notion, as indeed is MasterChef. But what if ‘following your passion’ and ‘doing what you love’  turns out to be a hideous error?

 As the blogosphere’s supreme iconoclast David Cohen puts it

Whatever you do, don’t follow your passion. Following soon becomes stalking; stalking becomes sneaking into its bedroom late at night and abducting it; and abducting it becomes burying it at the crossroads while eating its still warm heart. Following your passion will kill it.

This follows from Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crap. So, if your passion is movies and you become a film critic, what you actually spend your time doing is mostly watching crappy movies. If you love cooking (which usually means you like making one big meal on the weekend after planning a menu and shopping for specific ingredients), what you actually spend your time doing as a chef is cooking crap. (If you open a restaurant, rather than just become a chef, what you actually spend your time doing is losing money.)

Telling people to follow their passion is telling people that, if passion is their passion, they should become a prostitute. Actual prostitutes are not in it for the sex.

I once asked Jon Hotten why he didn’t become a full-time cricket journalist, when the sport is obviously his passion. His answer was that he didn’t want to spend every day sitting in a press box writing exactly the same thing as all the other guys in the press box.

We came up with the name ‘The Dabbler’ after debating a list of synonyms for ‘amateur’ – which, you might say with some or other degree of pointed ambiguity, probably explains a lot.

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8 thoughts on “Don’t follow your passion

    October 4, 2010 at 13:25

    and, if I might add, we should be passionate about avoiding the words ‘passion’ or ‘passionate’. The only people I see who actually use those words are chronically unimaginative and unaware businessman who all seem to be “passionate about their passion to be the Number 1 office supplies distributor in the West Midlands”. Ugghh and Grrrrrr.

    October 4, 2010 at 13:40

    It should be pointed out, with a smidgen of humour I might add, the a dabbler is also a duck with its arse in the air.
    The ities use the word passion to good effect, being as they are passionate about Ferraris, AC Milan, Rossi’s motor bike, not paying tax, VAT, their fair share in Europe, not bothering the Mafia, Berlusconi and ripping me off on their sodding gondolas, in fact, screw passion.

    October 4, 2010 at 21:08

    having spent 18 months as the manager of a strip club (true!) I can concur with the author’s point. Even magnificent breasts can lose their allure when waved in your face for long enough. 🙁

  4. Brit
    October 4, 2010 at 21:20

    Worm, I am agog. You really are full of surprises…

    October 5, 2010 at 13:39


    Is “I’m passionate about breasts” a good answer to “Why do you want to manage a strip club?” in the job interview?

    October 5, 2010 at 14:57

    Ah worm, all, as they say, has been revealed, what on earth do you put on your CV.

    October 5, 2010 at 15:22

    er..I don’t actually have a CV, but if I did, I’d put ‘hospitality management.’

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