The Passion Agenda


I don’t know about you, but I am really sick and tired of talking about the word passion. I have written/talked/blogged about it on several occasions and I’ve said…

Passion doesn’t pay the bills.

  • American’s are sullied with credit card debt. We don’t seem to understand that most people in this country aren’t rich. And when we have a passion conversation, we skip over the very real conversation that the average annual salary in this country is less than $50,000/year.
  • When the American family carries an average of $14,000 in credit card debt, you can either follow your passion or you can pay off your Mastercard bill — but you can’t do either unless you tamp down that ego and realize that nearly all work is meaningful when it puts a roof over your head, feeds your kids, and meets your basic needs in life.

Performance pays. Passion doesn’t.

  • I’ve said this before and I will say it again: the average salary increase is less than 4% and the cost of living grows by more than 4% on an annual basis (including gas & energy). Unless you have a decent savings account, you have to think about ‘performing’ at work and securing your professional income at your day job before you can go on a journey to find your true passion.
  • Companies (even small ones) are very focused on forced ranking and bell curves as a means to reduce labor expenses. If your department has 10 people and the merit increase budget is $10,000, your boss can give everyone a $1,000 increase — or she could give the top two performers $3000 each and then distribute the rest accordingly.
  • You are advised to focus on your real life and the very real opportunities to increase your income in your current job rather than dream about a job that lets you feel good about yourself and makes you rich. That job doesn’t exist.

The people who tell you to follow your passion in life are the same people who often expect you to work for them at a discounted rate.

  • These are gurus and thought leaders who employ people and set trends. You know who they are.
  • They make money right off the top when they can pay their own employees — who book speaking engagements and work on PR teams — in ‘passion’ and not with real dollars.

I agree that there’s an inherent value in some things (e.g., working from home instead of driving to an office) and you can calculate some ‘soft’ benefits into your overall compensation package; however, there is no such thing as a ‘passion differential’. It doesn’t exist, and you never hear about a CEO who is paid in an ’employment experience’ instead of cash.

You should follow your passion without regard to money.

  • I like the idea of following dreams. You want to be a writer? Write. You want to be a singer? Sing. Your passion doesn’t have to be your career.
  • And sometimes, you suck at your passion. I’ve seen you at karaoke, buddy. Keep your day job.

If you really want to make a difference in the world, the best way is to help others achieve their dreams. Work with kids. Work with the elderly. Improve your local schools. Stop a famine. Vaccinate children. Coach little league. Work with adults who have physical or mental impairments and just want a chance to contribute to the world, too. Raise money to spay & neuter animals so some poor guy can get a real job and doesn’t have to work in a government animal shelter that euthanizes dogs.

You can follow your passion and have real job. In fact, sometimes it’s good to have some psychic distance between the two. Makes you a healthier person.

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