About once a month or so, I get an email from a current college student or a recent college graduate asking for career advice.  At this point, I have my talking points pretty well practiced. First I lay out my seven step guide to getting your first job and explain that the secret is a disciplined system and persistence.  Second, I always tell them to do something that they’re passionate about.

I include the bit about passion because that’s what people told me when I was searching for my first job.  “Follow your passion and the success and money will come.”  I distinctly remember hearing those words of advice from my great uncle on my first networking trip to New York City after I graduated college.

For a very long time I thought the bit about passion was a bit idealistic – sort of a hokey feel-good message that people say but everyone knows is only part true.  For instance, I could be very passionate about being the lead singer in a rock and roll band, but I promise you that no one would ever pay to hear me sing.

Over the years I’ve learned that I was wrong about passion, mostly because “Follow your passion” is only part of the story.

The real reason why you should follow your passion is because that’s the only way to be the best at what you do.  Passion keeps you up at night with new ideas and innovations, it drives you to dig deep and learn everything you can, and it makes “work” feel easy – like it’s no work at all.

Most importantly, if you find yourself in a job that you’re not passionate about, you can be sure that someone else will be passionate about it and passion always wins.  No matter how hard you try, they will always work harder and longer and ultimately they will be the best.

So today I am revising my advice to new college graduates.  Now, it will sound like this:

At every job, in every company there is always one person who is significantly more passionate about what they’re doing than everyone else.  The easiest thing you can do to ensure your long term success and happiness?  Make sure that person is you.

Do Something You’re Passionate About
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  • Simon Dexter

    I can’t agree more with you – the traditional ‘passion’ spiel is quite-a-bit worn out and inadequate in today’s environment of global competition. Your message is much closer to what needs to be told to students on campuses these days.

    And there is countless advice on what to do so one can be best at what they do. Here is one book that got me thinking:
    “Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else” by Geoff Colvin

    By the way, congrats on getting promoted.