don’t follow your passion

DON’T Follow Your Passion



agenda good luck congratulations
truth dirty (2) realization
advice perform passion (2)
follow keep (2) narrow (2)
trophy head (3) deconstruct
give up dream (2) have what it takes
handy encourage persistence
lady stranger tell/told/told
idol (2) mean (3) know/knew/known
aspire incredible mean/meant/meant
possess show up expectation
lack amazing think/thought/thought
talent genuine sing/sang/sung
shock diploma lead/led/led
ability opinion by all means
mighty footsteps when it comes to
earn degree (3) make/made/made
terrible imaginary forget/forgot/forgotten
Oscars existence choose/chose/chosen
career crap (2) find/found/found
offer deficiency stay on course
chance on the job meaningful
septic recessive have/had/had
secret train (2) look around
explore prosper get/got/gotten
weld plumber hear/heard/heard
HVAC as a result tradesman
cringe consider opportunity
reject compete miss out on
set (2) struggle see/saw/seen
fill (2) relatively all kinds of
gap blueprint contestant
absorb shop (3) make a living
gene value (2) come/came/came
skip (2) suck (2) septic tank
exist overcome legitimate
ensure course (2) bring/brought/brought
sigh heavy (2) paramecium
believe contrary feel/felt/felt
scone field (2) make sense
fickle sensible






There are only two things I can tell you today that come with absolutely no agenda.

The first is “Congratulations.” The second is “Good luck.” Everything else is what I like to call, “The Dirty Truth,” which is just another way of saying, “It’s my opinion.”

And in my opinion, you have all been given some terrible advice, and that advice, is this: Follow your passion.

Every time I watch the Oscars, I cringe when some famous movie star — trophy in hand — starts to deconstruct the secret of their success. It’s always the same thing: “Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have what it takes, kid!”; and the ever popular, “Never give up on your dreams!”

Look, I understand the importance of persistence, and the value of encouragement, but who tells a stranger to never give up on their dreams, without even knowing what it is they’re dreaming?

I mean, how can Lady Gaga possibly know where your passion will lead you?

Have these people never seen American Idol? Year after year, thousands of aspiring American Idols show up with great expectations — only to learn that they don’t possess the skills they thought they did.

What’s really amazing though, is not their lack of talent (the world is full of people who can’t sing). It’s their genuine shock at being rejected; the incredible realization that their passion and their ability had nothing to do with each other.

Look, if we’re talking about your hobby, by all means let your passion lead you.

But when it comes to making a living, it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.

And just because you’ve earned a degree in your chosen field, doesn’t mean you’re gonna find your “dream job.” Dream Jobs are usually just that — dreams.

But their imaginary existence just might keep you from exploring careers that offer a legitimate chance to perform meaningful work and develop a genuine passion for the job you already have.

Because here’s another Dirty Truth: your happiness on the job has very little to do with the work itself.

On Dirty Jobs, I remember a very successful septic tank cleaner, a multi-millionaire, who told me the secret to his success: “I looked around to see where everyone else was headed,” he said, “And then I went the opposite way. Then I got good at my work. Then I began to prosper.

And then one day, I realized I was passionate about other people’s crap.”

I’ve heard that same basic story from welders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, HVAC professionals, hundreds of other skilled tradesmen who followed opportunity — not passion — and prospered as a result.

Consider the reality of the current job market.

Right now, millions of people with degrees and diplomas are out there competing for a relatively narrow set of opportunities that polite society calls “good careers.”

Meanwhile, employers are struggling to fill nearly 5.8 million jobs that nobody’s trained to do. This is the skills gap, it’s real, and its cause is actually very simple: when people follow their passion, they miss out on all kinds of opportunities they didn’t even know existed.

When I was 16, I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps. He was a skilled tradesman who could build a house without a blueprint. That was my passion, and I followed it for years.

I took all the shop classes at school, I did all I could to absorb the knowledge and skill that came so easily to my granddad.

Unfortunately, the handy gene is recessive. It skipped right over me, and I struggled mightily to overcome my deficiencies. But I couldn’t. I was one of those contestants on American Idol, who believed his passion was enough to ensure his success.

One day, I brought home a sconce I had made in wood-shop that looked like a paramecium.

After a heavy sigh, my granddad gave me the best advice I’ve ever received.
He told me, “Mike, you can still be a tradesman, but only if you get yourself a different kind of toolbox.”

At the time, this felt contrary to everything I believed about the importance of “passion” and persistence and “staying the course.” But of course, he was right. Because “staying the course” only makes sense if you’re headed in a sensible direction.
And while passion is way too important to be without, it is way too fickle to follow around.

Which brings us to the final Dirty Truth. “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”

Congratulations, again — and good luck.

I’m Mike Rowe from mikeroweWORKS, for Prager University.

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1. According to the speaker, is it mostly doctors, lawyers, engineers and business people most famously giving advice?

2. In recent decades, people have been told to study hard, work hard, sacrifice and be industrious and thrifty. Is this entirely true, mostly true, in the middle, yes and no, largely false or entirely false?

3. What was his main example that “following your passion or dreams” is not (always) a practical approach?

4. Does he give a psychological analysis of American Idol? What usually happens there?

5. How does the speaker describe the current labor market? What is the current supply of and demand for workers?

6. As role-models, he mentions Nobel-prize scientists, inventors and tech founders. Is this right or wrong?

7. “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.” What does this mean?


A. What have you been told by your parents, teachers, politicians, journalists, celebrities?

B. What do you think of the speaker’s talk? I completely agree with him. I mostly agree. In the middle, yes and no, I both agree and disagree. I mostly disagree or I totally disagree with him?

C. Describe the current labor market.

D. What might happen in the future?

E. Should people, the media, governments and celebrities do anything?

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