Of the many seemingly endless debates that rage in the workplace/human resources/careers blogosphere, ('How can HR become 'strategic'?, 'Do I need a cover letter?', 'My boss/colleague/HR lady is a jerk, what should I do?), one of my favorites is the one centered around the 'Following your passion at work', discussion.
The 'passion' dialog seems to be split fairly evenly, perhaps the 'You should stop what you are doing and follow your passion' crowd might have the upper hand, (slightly), but that could be because they seem to shout about it the loudest, and it just seems like something we should pursue, or at least aspire to. But often, even the most well-reasoned and reasonable arguments for chasing your passion usually fall a bit flat for me. If I tried to apply the most common passion arguments, even taken loosely, I'd either be trying to catch on with an (unaffiliated) minor league baseball team as a soft-tossing lefty reliever, or hauling a BBQ smoker behind the pickup while working the county fair circuit selling sandwiches. Neither option really seems like a wise choice at this stage.
Probably the most even-keeled recent take on the subject was from blogger and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban, with the piece titled, 'Don't Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort', that recommends pursuing that which you most often find yourself pursuing, if that makes sense. It actually is a really good piece, tempered only with the knowledge that through hard work, good fortune, and impeccable timing, Cuban himself has countless options that he is free to chase, including things others might term 'passions.'
But past the passion/effort/I just need to keep the mortgage paid and kids fed discussion, which like the other endless workplace debates eventually, maybe already, get extremely tedious, I wanted to offer up one slightly different, and I think completely realistic, honest, and refreshing take on the matter, pulled from a profile of comic Marc Maron on the Vulture blog. Maron, who you'd classify as a working comic, not a household name, but beginning to become more well-known and recognized or a popular series of podcasts that have featured many comedy superstars, offered this telling observation about how he sees his work, success, and in a way seems to reconcile the 'passion' argument really neatly.
“Look,” Maron says before going onstage, “I just want to get out of here unscathed. I just want to leave here still thinking that I did the right thing with my life. That’s my only goal, to have a check that doesn’t bounce and still believe I’m on the right path.”
Nice. Unscathed, with a check that doesn't bounce, and at least a small feeling that you have made (mostly) the right choices and are generally heading in the right direction.
Maybe not passion, but definitely sensible. Definitely reachable. And a question that can be easily asked and answered by most of us each day.
Did I get out of here unscathed? Did the check clear? Am I heading in the right direction?
What say you?