Don't Follow Your Passion

One of the minor culture shocks in moving from India to America is getting used to the most exaggerated form of the emotions while articulating them. “Like” turns into “Love”. “Interest” turns into “Passion”. Etc.

Of course, I’m generalizing both Indians and Americans here but Im doing that to make a point here. One of the most common, most cringe-worthy and most meaningless is the platitude of “follow your passion” in all graduation speeches, how-to-become-successful listicles and interviews with successful people in America.

One’s perception of passion limits them to explore anything new. That seems suboptimal and likely the best path to local maxima. What we are interested in early on is a function of our experiences and exposure leading up to that point. That says not much deterministically about what’s great for us from a hobby and career standpoint. Experimentation is often at odds with “follow your passion” advice. One accepts the exploratory nature of emerging pursuits while other presupposes optimal paths are just to be found, not built. Latter discounts the extent to which new interests can be cultivated through discipline and curiosity.

I highly recommend watching this talk by Bill Gurley on career advice. Striking how many took that away from the Bill Gurley talk My takeaway from it was aspire to have more knowledge than your peers & to keep leveling up. His first half made this point very strongly.

I now default to having a passion for experimentation :)