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Head or Heart? Ice or Fire? Is It Right to Follow Your Passion?

Our Coaching and Mentoring Can Help You Make the Right Choices

Recently in LinkedIn posts, there have been some articles arguing that the “follow your passion” mantra turned out to be bad advice. Actually, it depends. It can a great idea to go for whatever you love, provided 3 conditions are met:

  1. You can build great competencies.
  2. There is a market for these skills.
  3. You accept the consequences of your choices.

Passion is a must: it’s the fuel of great skill development:

It requires endless – often tedious – repetition to become good at anything. Passion provides the required resilience to support the sacrifice.

Some passions are tougher to market than others:

Your tremendous enthusiasm for Babylonian cuneiform writing is harder to sell than tax law skills. Some industries pay well, some bad. Tennis pays spectacularly better than karate; no matter how amazing you are at chopping wood with karate kicks.

Therefore, choices have consequences. Just be aware:

In the Dexter TV series, his sister complains to her shrink that she always seems to fall for the wrong men (an understatement. Some guys turned out to be psychotic serial killers). She asked what she should do. Answer: “make different choices.”

Choices matter. The “study or do whatever you want as long as you have a passion for it” advice given to kids is somewhat flawed. The starting salary for an economics graduate is double that of a graduate in social sciences. No issue if you do not care about any of that. Just know that it is so.

Give your dream an “all out chance” but be honest with yourself:

Not to follow one’s heart leads to painful regrets. It does make sense to go for a dream. It’s certainly better to look back and say: “I gave it my absolute best” than never to have tried.  Still, know what you get into and make a candid self-assessment. Analyse your strengths and weaknesses. Ask feedback from those friends who will tell you the truth. Then go for where your strengths lie.

You might also want to set success criteria, “KPIs” (Key Performance Indicators). If you do not progress towards certain standards of performance, reconsider the road taken.

Do not be fooled by “the winner’s fallacy”, the ex post ante:

When self-help books are written about self-made billionaires, they all highlight that these people worked hard. They did. But plenty of harder working entrepreneurs failed. Few successful people say: “man, I just got lucky”.

At least, the bass player of Kiss was honest when asked: “if Kiss had not made it, what would you have become?”

His answer: “Would you like French fries with this sir?”

All the above might be far too sobering advice for your taste. That’s fine. In the end, only you can decide what’s best for you.

Yet, if you want my advice on the head or heart question: USE BOTH. And if head and heart disagree, follow your heart.

If you would like a conversation with any of our coaches please contact kate@azizcorp.com or call 01962 774766

Peter Corijn is Mentor and Coach at AZIZ Corporate. Peter was in the C-Suite of Imperial Brands as CMO and Vice-President at P&G. His book “True Leaders Deliver. An Essential Guide to Mission Success” will be published in 2023.  Peter’s creative skills find an outlet in music. In his youth, he played support to U2, Echo&The Bunnymen and several other bands. He still records as “Paul Numi” (400,000 streams on digital media).

About Aziz Corporate

Aziz was founded over 30 years ago by Khalid Aziz, a media pioneer of his day who at 21 became the youngest ever appointed BBC producer.

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