I read a Q&A article recently on Mashable that was with the author of The 4-Hour Workweek among other ‘4-hour’ books, Tim Ferris. Let me begin by saying that I like Tim Ferris and I think his book is excellent.
In this Q&A session he talks about a lot of things, most of which I agree with. His comment of “You are the average of the five people you associate with most.” is spot on. His idea of ‘work-life separation’ is interesting and in principle I agree with the notion of making time to take breaks from work and protecting those breaks like you would a conference call with the President.
His answer to the question: Do you think that “follow your passion” is realistic career advice for everyone? however, is where he began to lose me. He beings with “Definitely not.” which I agree with. Not everyone wants to follow their passion and so it’s not for everyone. He goes on to basically say that if you turn your passion into your work it will kill your passion.
I understand what he’s saying, and on the surface I can see where he’s coming from. He gives the example that someone who surfs a couple of hours on a weekend to decompress will no longer find it decompressing if they do it 40 hours a week with difficult clients. Fair enough.
The mistake here, is that we only have ONE passion. We are all complex human beings and like our tastes in music, clothes, friends, and many other things, we have many passions of varying degrees. It’s also a mistake to think that there is only ONE way to live. Meaning that we must work and then live; that the model for making a living by working a job (whether we like it or not) that has nothing to do with our passions in life simply because it’s a way to make a living. We no longer need to buy into the notion that there is ONE way to do things, especially as it relates to our ‘work’. And we certainly don’t need to believe that the One and only way to follow our passion in our work will lead to the death of that passion.
Similarly, it may not be about stopping the work we do now and instead finding a way to bring our passions into the work we currently do.
It was this quote, however, that made me shake my head in bewilderment. Mr. Ferris, near the end of his answer to the question says “Expect a lot out of life, but don’t expect too much from your job.”
I respectfully disagree. While I understand that his life is built around a 4-hour workweek that is not the norm for the majority of people whether they are blue or white collar workers, entrepreneurs, or farmer. Most people spend more time at their ‘work’ than they do with their families and while that is a different issue, the fact remains that we live in a culture and time where working is a big, if not bigger, part of our lives than anything else.
Our culture is also changing in that we no longer expect to have the same job for most of our lives. The newer generations of workers change jobs almost as much as they change their fashions. I would argue that we deserve, and should demand, a lot out of our job whatever it may be. The alternative, it seems to me, is to merely exist in a state of working to create a life we never have time to live.
Following one’s passion(s) is not easy and it certainly is not for everyone. For those who want more out of life, however, it is paramount. I believe it is entirely possible to follow your passion(s) and not lose them. I believe that as we continue to evolve as a workforce, as a culture, as a planet, that it is only by following one’s passions that we can truly change the world for the better.
I suggest we should spend the time to really learn what our passions are; to cultivate those passions in everything we do, both play and work, and expect as much out of our jobs as we do our play. It is, after all, our ONE life to live.