Last week I posted a review of Gary Vaynerchuk‘s book, “Crush It!” What I neglected to include was the subtitle: “Why now is the time to cash in on your passion.”
Then, last Friday, I spotted this post from Chris Brogan. The title: “How passion powers everything.”
I’m sure you see the common thread.
Is passion critical to reaching your goals? Absolutely. But it’s only one ingredient to success, and that’s a lesson that students and young professionals must learn early on.
While passion does fuel the human machine, it won’t get you anywhere unless you add knowledge, critical thinking, talent, and a good bit of personal sacrifice. Simply loving something doesn’t make you good at it. Otherwise, I’d have pitched Game 7 of the 1979 World Series. (We had ’em all the way!)
My passion didn’t surface until the mid-1980s. When I was 10 years into a public relations career, I began teaching a college course in PR Principles. That class was my “holy shit” moment. It’s when I learned that my passion lay in the classroom, not the boardroom.
My career change would take 7 years of retooling, and a lot of it wasn’t fun.
From 1985-88, I honed my teaching skills, and I began to study the PR theory and the history I’d missed as an undergrad. When the chance came to serve as a “visiting professional” at another university some 200 miles away, I grabbed it.
While passion may have driven me to academe, it was my knowledge of PR and great course proposal that earned me that teaching gig in 1989. My 8 weeks as a full-time college professor erased all doubt about where I belonged. But there was so much work yet to do.
I went back to school in the evenings to learn the theory and research that so few PR professionals ever bother to read. En route to an advanced degree, I made a philosophical connection to the public relations discipline and picked up a specialty in applied ethics along the way.
Passion saw me through the process, but Kent State didn’t hire me for my exuberance. My colleagues demanded that I demonstrate a mastery of the PR field. I survived the search process not on my passion, but on my knowledge — and a wee bit of stage presence.
My point: Chris and Gary probably won’t disagree with this post. They’re both knowledgeable guys who are driven to succeed. But I worry that these titans of 2.0 sometimes overemphasize the passion message without enough focus on the hard-work message. But maybe they don’t see it as “work,” because they’re having so much fun doing it.
As an educator, I can do only so much to prepare students. I don’t supply the passion. The acquisition of knowledge and experience is an act of will on their part, not mine. At times I’m a conduit, other times a catalyst — even a motivator. But students must ultimately do the work, and it’s sometimes a painful journey.
If you work hard and stay focused, the knowledge, experience, and clear thinking you acquire may pay off in spades, or it may not. But without all those elements, passion is just a buzzword.
- This post grew from a discussion with my new colleague, Dr. Bob Batchelor. He’s preparing a speech titled, “How to become the smartest person in the room.” Passion is not a central element to his presentation.
- Seth Godin’s post titled “On Self Determination,” urges students to take control of their lives. It also inspired some of my thinking here.
- I owe that last paragraph about the “act of will” to my good friend, Dr. Blair Boone, who used the theme it in a speech before a group of inmates at Upstate New York prison.