When Told Not To Follow Your Passion

So my buddy Josh Teaford, posted a video by Mike Rowe (of dirty jobs fame).  If you want to watch it before reading the rest just click here, If you don’t, the point of the video was to tell people not to follow their passion because they may not be good at it.  He also argued that while you are following your passion, you could be missing opportunities to pursue good work in a trade that could later become your passion.  Now, we will ignore the part that this was all basically an advertisement for online courses from an unaccredited university.  We will just get into why not following your passion is a terrible bit of advice.

When  Josh Teaford tweeted about this I had to give it a watch.  My entire life since the age of 23, has been about following my passion, and I wanted to see why Josh was so angry. The beginning of the video was pretty straightforward.  Mike was saying that just because you are passionate about something doesn’t mean you are good at it.  He sited American Idol as a prime example of people who love to do something, but may not be good enough to do it.  Here is the problem with that example: Those people were seeking approval for their passion!  If you have a passion to do something, you should never seek approval to keep following it.  Besides, American Idol is a contest that is looking for a certain type of person.  Not everyone will be what they are looking for.  So you may be a ok singer, but you may have a big ass head and American Idol had a strict one big head per season policy (which was taken by Simon Cowell).  Man, if I listened to contest and competitions, I should have given up on comedy a long damn time ago.

The video then went on to talk about how because everyone is following their passion, there is a huge gap in jobs that no one is trained for.  That is true.  There is a huge gap in the number of trade type jobs and not enough people to fill them.  That isn’t your problem though.  You are supposed to try your hardest to be happy.  If being a plumber will make you happy, or help you achieve it, then go for it!  If the thought of a job that you don’t want to do makes you run for the drain-o, then don’t do it.  Don’t go after a career because it will make your bank account look good.  Sure, you may, after awhile, love to do it, but if you don’t want to chance that and pursue your opera singer career then go for it.  You have one life.  Do you want to spend that one life regretting that you didn’t do the one thing that filled you with joy?

Now, I am not saying just blindly pursue your dreams and ignore what people say.  If you want to be a singer, you need to make sure you are doing the things necessary to go after it.  You can’t sit around drinking and smoking and dreaming of something, and never doing what it takes to get there.  I see it all the time with comedians.  They want to headliner or feature, but they don’t write jokes, they don’t work on their sets, they just sit around talking.  Talking doesn’t make things happen, action does.

If I had to give you advice it would be this: Follow your dreams, and take everyone’s “concerns” with a grain of salt.  No one knows your passion except those that are also following it.  It is easy for Mike Rowe to tell you not to follow your dreams because he isn’t in your head and he can’t see that your passions are what makes you what you are.  He doesn’t know the hurdles you had to jump to get to where you are. Just like I don’t know either.  That’s the thing.  You have to access your situation and respond to it accordingly.  If you have 5 kids and you want to be a comedian, I would suggest not quitting your day job until you can ensure you have solid work making people laugh. I have been pursuing comedy for eleven years now, but I still went and got a degree in sociology, just in case it doesn’t work out.  I will never tell anyone not to follow their dreams, and no one else should either.  Do what makes you happy, but remember, you will have to work to achieve those dreams.


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