I was stunned to read the headline in Mr. Carl McCoy’s op ed piece in the The Wall Street Journal (May 28, 2013; “Dear Grads, Don’t Do What You Love”) cautioning commencement speakers to stop telling graduates to seek their passion and do what they love.
Now, I completely get his notion that finding purpose for your work is important—to me that’s part of being passionate, but to trivialize the concept by saying they won’t all be first responders or social workers—giving back to the community—so just deal, is not an answer!
Study after study shows that people are more satisfied in their work, more motivated in their careers if they are doing work for which they have a talent. In turn, when strengths are recognized and developed they tend to correlate with passion.
McCoy’s example that a starving artist is not fun when you’re starving—thus making the case you can’t do what you love—completely misses the point. Using his metaphor, if he really had a passion for art, he would have found another way to express it—taught, worked in a museum or art gallery, become a docent. So I don’t buy it.
Instead, find your passion, a passion that will provide you with income and meaningful work. You’re not going to “love” every aspect of any job, but perhaps the outcome of what you do or aspects of your career are just darn right awesome—go for that; go for your dreams.