Scott WestermanBy: Scott Westerman

“A person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.”. ~ Charles M. Schwab

Is it unrealistic to assume that you can create a career around a passion?

Consider these two “experts”: One who helps the jobless find jobs. One who rode the dot.com bubble to riches.

“When you determine the careers that fit you rather than what you’re passionate about, you’ll find job opportunities that are meaningful.” Doug Stites – CEO – Capital Area Michigan Works, writing in in the Lansing State Journal.

“‘Follow your passion’ is easily the worst advice you can either give or get.” Mark Cuban.

To be fair, Doug makes good points about finding a company culture that is in sync with who you are. And Mark makes the connection between effort and achievement. But putting passion in second place IS the worst advice you’ll ever give or get.

“There is no greatness without a passion to be great,” writes Tony Robbins.

If people put passion second, we would still be riding to work on horses. We wouldn’t have an airplane or an iPhone. Polio and small pox would still be devastating hundreds of thousands of lives. There would be no FedEx or Disney World. No, Virginia, there wouldn’t be a Santa Claus. The United States of America wouldn’t exist.

Each of these ideas took root in passionate minds. Passion creates company cultures and exceptional teams. Passion inspires big, hairy, audacious goals and the unrealistic expectations that become foregone conclusions. Passion keeps you focused when everyone and everything is trying to distract you.

Passion also ignites naysayers. The naysayers that will give you every reason it can’t be done and then say, “I always knew it could be done,” after you’ve done it.

It’s true that you can be successful in a job that is not your passion. Hundreds of thousands of people do it every day. You may need to prove your ability at something you don’t love to earn a shot at getting paid for something you do love. What’s sad is the fact that so many have given up on the notion that passion and profession can go hand in hand.

“The world needs ditch diggers,” as Judge Smails so aptly put it in Caddyshack. If that’s what turns you on, go for it. One of my friends does precisely that. “I love being outside,” he says. “I’m always working in different locations, meeting different people and I come home feeling healthy, like I accomplished something.”

“You can praise God by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection,” advises the Rev. J.D. Liddell in Chariots of Fire. But he follows it with this line. “Don’t compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil.”

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t follow your passion. Never allow someone else to talk you into doing the job you “ought’ to do instead of the job your were born to do. The road toward understanding, bracketing and chasing your passion is not an easy one. But it’s almost always the right one.

“Find your passion, whatever it may be,” advises T. Alan Armstrong. “Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen for you, to you and because of you.”

Have a great week!


Scott Westerman has been a broadcaster, cable television executive and entrepreneur. In 2010 he joined the MSU Alumni Association as Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations & Executive Director. He is a 1978 graduate of Michigan State University. 

This blog post was originally featured on http://www.scottwesterman.com and has been used by the author’s permission.

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