Don't Follow Your Passion! - Mondragon Team Academy Maastricht Heerlen

Don’t Follow Your Passion!

Mondragon Team Academy Maastricht Heerlen

By Peter Powell

Anyone trying to pick a study program or leave the daily grind of office work to start their own business has undoubtedly heard it “Follow your passion.” A really nice, really useless piece of advice.

It sounds nice because it seems to make sense: if you do something you care deeply about, you are more likely to feel fulfilled than by working at something you don’t enjoy.

However, it’s useless because it’s infuriatingly vague. Even worse, it suggests that you have just one career path in your life you’ll ever get really excited about and that anything other than that won’t make you feel fulfilled.

What’s the alternative?

Rather than trying to find that one elusive career path that will give your life meaning, go out and explore different paths. Try out different career paths by reading books, watching videos, starting micro-businesses, and most importantly, asking lots of questions to as many people as you can.

Some time ago I had the chance to receive career advice from a former C-suite exec of one of the biggest chemical companies in the world and he’d done exactly this, we’ll call him Frank (not his real name). Frank retired after a stellar career, still happily married and with a healthy, happy family – something quite uncommon for career driven execs. When I asked Frank how he had planned his career out in such a way as to be so successful. He replied, “I didn’t”. Instead of planning his career Frank let his natural curiosity take the lead: whenever he had to make a career choice (choosing an internship, applying for a job, accepting a new position, etc), he would find a whole load of books and articles on the field he’d be working in and start reading. If he got bored, he’d choose not to follow that path. If he couldn’t stop reading because he found it so interesting, he’d choose that direction. By doing this, Frank ended up enjoying most of the work he did and naturally excelled at it because he was genuinely interested in what he was doing. The results speak for themselves.

This isn’t to say that passion isn’t important. On the contrary, doing something you truly care about creates a deep sense of fulfillment that goes far beyond making a living. However, passion isn’t something you find lying around on the road. It’s something you build. Once you start exploring different paths and following your curiosity, you’ll begin to invest time and energy into what you are doing. The more time and energy you put into something that is genuinely yours, the more you’ll care about it. It’s worth noting that the word passion is derived from the Latin word Pati, meaning to suffer. Building your passion will cost you. It will require you to sacrifice, time, energy and effort. But in the end, you’ll have built something you can be proud of. Something which you can be satisfied with… Until something else captures your curiosity.

In short:
passion = curiosity + exploration + hard work

How to start?

  1. Curiosity: Look for something which piques your interest. Maybe it’s something exciting, maybe it’s a problem you find annoying that you’d like to solve.
  2. Exploration: start simple; watch youtube films, read books, listen to podcasts and, go talk to professionals working in that field. Then go do something difficult; go out create a business, start a club, make something!
  3. Hard work: Follow your curiosity, discover where your strengths are, what gives you energy and what you enjoy. Use this to focus on a specific direction, then keep building till you’re satisfied.


About MTA

MTA is one of the only bachelor’s programs in the world which allows you to explore different functions and career paths while studying. At MTA you’ll travel all over the world, guided by a team of expert coaches who’ll help you discover and build a career you’re passionate about. All while starting a successful company.

If you’re interested in learning more about MTA click here.

Peter Powell
Peter is a freelancer and entrepreneur who works as a strategic marketer and event producer in the cultural, education and non-profit sectors. With two music degrees under his belt, much of his career so far has been ad-libbed and any success is most likely due to an unreasonable degree of enthusiasm and excellent googling skills.

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