"Do What You Love" is a Myth

I’ve always believed, and indeed searched for that thing that I love to go forward into a career. That one thing I am most passionate about that I see myself working on for the rest of my working life. I never seemed to find it when I stood at the start line and looked forward. Last night I was watching the documentary about Alan Hanson’s football and pundit career and it hit me why.

Hanson as a boy had more passion for golf than he did for football; he’d spent more time playing golf and he was better at it. He turned his back on football at 16 when he didn’t think he was good enough to make it, luckily enough for him his history teacher talked him out of it. Soon enough he would be playing for Liverpool, dominating domestic football and winning 2 European Cups (Champions Leagues as it is now). Now he had passion for the game. Now he was doing what he loved. Later in the documentary he says when he walked out of the gates of Anfield for the final time he never once missed it. Passion?

What strikes me now is a quiet obvious theory.

If you are good at something you will have passion for it, if you are great at it then you will certainly love it too. The passion and love arrive for something the better you are at it.

When I was an alarm fitter I enjoyed it, I was good at it and it felt good to be able to secure people’s homes and make them safe. I’d never go as far as saying it was my passion but the better I got at a trade the more I felt at ease with it. I got respect by my piers and customers a like, I’d put the work in to learn this trade and maybe this was what I was meant to do. Yeah right, the day the tools went down and the desk job appeared I never looked back at being on one of the lower rungs of the trade.

The myth is, if you love something pursue it and you never work a day in your life. Its nonsense, people who love teaching didn’t love the kids and the job the first year, it probably took 5 years before they began to reference it as “their calling”. it’s the same when people who wipe old folks arses in retirement homes. On day 1 they didn’t love it, it was a job that paid the bills. 10 years later they can’t see what else they were meant to do. Truth is though when a teacher or nurse walks away from their job they don’t look back and miss it, not really no matter what they say. Ok, they say they do, but when they aren’t getting paid for their calling they seem to stop doing it. Apologies for these two trades, the same can be said for any person who spends their life doing something they say they love but stop doing it the minute they stop being paid.

The guy who designs a killer app and sees the fruits of his labour landing in the bank account all of a sudden loves the project. He’s found his true calling in life. No, you found a way to make loads of money from something you are good at and now it’s defined as “your calling”. it’s 2014 we love to label things. In 5 years time apps will be replaced by the next technology and he’ll be off designing for the new platform and that will be his calling.

This is what happened to Hanson. A year out of the game and the phones not ringing he starts making calls asking for work. He was bored and needed something to do, he probably needed the money too. So he found his way to punditry, something he quickly excelled at. Like in his football career he was lucky enough to work with the greats and quickly became a well respected pundit. Ah, his passion for the game was back and 22 years later what did he say? When I walk out of the studio tonight for the last time, I won’t look back it will be in the past. Passion again?

There’s plenty of examples I could throw at you, it’s just that last night I watched that documentary on the day I seemed to get it.

We don’t have to find our passion on day 1, we just have to start something and commit to learning how to be the best at it by being better every single day. Once we break through then the passion will appear and if not maybe there’s something else you can do with your new found skills.

As Steve Jobs said. “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” and he’d be right although in the same speech he said “You’ve got to find what you love” Funny because Jobs wasn’t passionate about computers when he was at college, he was never a programmer but he seemed to find his passion when he found what he had a knack at being great at, which was innovation.

Just begin, put the work in to be better and then you can say you are passionate about whatever you find yourself doing.

It’s easy enough to have passion when you have 5 league medals and 2 European Cup wins on the mantle piece but even then you only have passion for what you are currently doing not what you did. One thing Hanson must have had was an unquestionable work ethic and a desire to learn.

Keep moving forward, love and passion seem to have a funny way of showing up, it certainly seems to have for the most successful people in the world.

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