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Sorry But Steve Jobs Was Wrong – Don’t follow your dream  

Steve Jobs

 

Early in my career as an executive with ITT we financed Apple Computers dealers and distributors. I met the Apple executives in California, and Charlotte on a regular basis and have always admired Steve Jobs and all the Apple people. Steve was a brilliant man and a wise deep thinking person – but on one thing I think he got it only partially right. “Find and follow Your Love”

The title of Steve Jobs’ commencement address in 2005 at Stanford was “you’ve got to find and follow what you love’. He eloquently spoke about as you start out after college you’ve got to find a career that you love. His follow your love is enlightening and is appealing to young new graduates looking to do something ideal that will enrich themselves and hopefully the world as well. When we are at that age we are idealists and have courageous goals. Frankly we should be that at every age and stage in life as well. His word follows the other career guide phrases such as follow your passion, or as Joseph Campbell coined “follow your bliss”

I really admire Steve Jobs as a brilliant man and a wise person, but on one thing I think he got it only partially right. “Find and follow Your Love” The title of Steve Jobs’ commencement address in 2005 at Stanford was ‘you’ve got to find what you love’. He eloquently spoke about as you start out after college you’ve got to find a career that you will love. His follow your love is enlightening and is appealing to young new graduates looking to do something ideal that will enrich themselves and hopefully the world as well. When we are at that age we are idealists and have courageous goals. And that should be at every age and stage in life as well.  His word follows the other career guide phrases such as follow your passion, or as Joseph Campbell coined “follow your bliss”

As inspiring and as lofty those three phrases are they are not fully accurate and for someone starting out in life they are misleading at best, and very damaging at worst.

I believe we should say instead of follow your passion, or “follow your love” as Steve Jobs said; say instead “build a bridge to what you love”. Why? Because the truth is most of us starting out, going into school, or graduating from college have no real idea of what our love, or passion, or bliss is, much less where or how to find it! Why? Because we are not born with a destined love or passion somewhere waiting “out there” for us to mystically discover.

The life and career advice to follow your love, follow your passion, or follow your bliss, as different people call this “thing” out there, just patiently waiting ahead of you, has been the favorite and most quoted catch phrase and generic career advice, given by the all-knowing Gurus of life, to all the newbie’s starting out in life.

This cure-all advice, for the past 30 years is however actually pernicious and only partially correct. For in truth we start at the beginning of our life and career not knowing what will eventually mature – via dedication and diligent work on “building” something good and something valuable into our passion.

The reality is that we have to start working not knowing, totally unaware of what our final passion will be. We do not “find” our passion! Why? Because it is not lost! And it is not cleverly hidden in our DNA. And it is not “out there” hidden in the infinite vastness and energy of the Cosmos. Our passion for a particular job, industry or profession is not immediately found at the beginning of our path, but recognized somewhere in the middle of our path.

          I say “We must build a Bridge to it”

Steve’s Job’s passion turned out to be computers. But he did not have that passion when he started college. He did not go to college to be a computer geek. At the beginning Steve was on his way to being a metaphysical hippie of sorts. Then he took a turn and he decided to go to Reed College {Reed College is a private and independent liberal arts college located in Portland}. As Jobs said in his Stanford Commencement,

“Reed at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating”.

 

Does that sound like a computer marketing wizard? Not to me. Now lets leave Steve Jobs advice and move onto Cal Newport, a Gen Y author, who believes as I do that “Follow Your Passion” is really not achievable advice. Cal wrote the new book – “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” 

Cal states it as such -”Generation Y was raised during the period when “follow your passion” became pervasive career advice. The phrase begins its rise in the 1990s and sprockets in the 2000s: the period when Generation Y was in its formative schooling years.

Why is this a problem? Because this simple phrase, “follow your passion,” turns out to be surprisingly pernicious. It’s hard to argue, of course, against the general idea that you should aim for a fulfilling working life. But this phrase requires something more. The verb “follow” implies that you start by identifying a passion and then match this preexisting calling to a job. Because the passion precedes the job, it stands to reason that you should love your work from the very first day.

It’s this implication that causes damage. When I studied people who love what they do for a living, I found that in most cases their passion developed slowly, often over unexpected and complicated paths. It’s rare, for example, to find someone who loves their career before they’ve become very good at it — expertise generates many different engaging traits, such as respect, impact, autonomy — and the process of becoming good can be frustrating and take years.

The early stages of a fantastic career might not feel fantastic at all, a reality that clashes with the fantasy world implied by the advice to “follow your passion” — an alternate universe where there’s a perfect job waiting for you, one that you’ll love right away once you discover it. It shouldn’t be surprising that members of Generation Y demand a lot from their working life right away and are frequently disappointed about what they experience instead”

I had great passion for my work of 25 years at GE and ITT, then Deutsche Bank. But I, like 95% of the world fell, or stumbled into my career. I started at entry-level and built my skills and value. And then somewhere along the way I realized I was passionate about my work and career. But at first there was nothing remotely called passion associated to being an entry-level kid in a global corporation. It was not easy, or sexy. But it gave me options and avenues to try out and as I got good at it and stuck to it, I created value for myself and for others. When you do the research you will find that compelling careers most often have stumbling, twisting or turning origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is “follow your passion.”

I happen to believe that all work has value and can become your love or your passion eventually, if it at first observation it can satisfy these four minimums.

  1. Is this work of “interest to you?
  2. Does this work align with your “values and beliefs?
  3. Will this work give you options now and down the road in 5 years time?
  4. Will this work eventually lead to greater responsibility and autonomy for you as you grow intellectually?

Additionally, even though you do not feel love or passion for the opportunity at the get go – if they meet these four points then go for it. Now don’t take a job if it is a dead-end job. A job, that after 5 years you will still be earning the same low pay and doing the same low-level work. You will never build a bridge to passion if the job is a dead-end!

Now, how do you build this bridge to passion?

You start out choosing something that will provide the basis for these four points. Then you show up, give your best, enjoy as you learn and build your bridge each day. Build it by doing good things. Build it by doing valuable things. Build it by stretching and learning new things daily. Create things others need and value. Building your bridge leads to a sense of accomplishment. It leads to people recognizing the value you are creating. Soon people will say that you are really passionate about what you do. And then you will realize that you are passionate about what you do! Only you can build your passion. No one can do it for you. No one can wrap it in a box with a pretty bow and give it to you. You must work, build, persevere, grow, learn and build your own passion.

So while you must have your 4 point criteria met; what job you start at is less important than just starting – and sticking to it till your passion gets created. Studies show that the longer people are at their work, the more they say they are following their passion. In an age when everyone wants instant everything, passion, is one of those valuable truths of life that we cannot get instantly.

It is time to drop slogans and inject into our cultural conversation facts on just how to create satisfying work — a conversation that Gen X and Y need to hear. These generations are not lazy or spoiled as some pundits say. They are full of hope and have high ideals for a better world than this one. And they are ready to work hard. They just need our support, and be pointed in the right direction for investing their energy. “Follow your passion” “Follow Your Dreams’ and Follow Your Heart” are inspiring slogans, but their value today as the cornerstone of career advice for a new working world paradigm needs to end.

 

Steve Jobs was more of a Brand than Apple. He was a brand for others to follow and the world was a better place that he came to be with us.

What BRAND are you creating by your beliefs, values, actions and thoughts.

If you are happy with your brand …wonderful. If not change it,

Each day we have the opportunity to rebrand ourselves or our companies

picture # BRAND

 

 

 

 

 

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