As a viewer of inspirational TED Talks, I was very curious when I saw the title of the video “Why you will fail to have a great career” at the TEDxTalks official YouTube channel. Notice, of course, the title is not “You Might Fail” or “Why It’s Okay to Fail”, but is instead the blunt statement that you will fail. Since this video had racked up over a million views, I thought it would be worth fifteen minutes of my time to see it. Indeed, it was. It’s actually not depressing, as I was expecting it to be. Instead, it’s motivating, with a splash of tough love thrown in there. The video asks an interesting question about time and how you spend it. If you don’t want to watch the video, though I suggest you do, here is the essential question it asks:
Are You Interested, or Are You Passionate?
There is a big difference between doing what interests you and what gives you passion. Interest is one thing. A person may be interested in plenty of things. You can be interested in baseball, reading Ernest Hemingway books, learning about psychology, bowling, finding unique bargain sales, making pancakes, etc. Interests can be very wide, and there’s a good reason for that. If we explore the definition of interest, we see “the state of wanting to know or learn about something or someone.” Synonyms include regard, notice, delight, enjoyment, attention. An interest can be a saver at times. If you see something that makes you want to learn more, you might call it an interest. You can have a lot of interests because of the mild nature of them. Some people, when they are searching for a career, look for something that interests them, like learning about psychology, and decide they are going to make a career out of it. This is where the failure comes. Yes, teachers and educators commonly tell you to go where your interests lead you. And this is good advice, to an extent. Or, it’s well-meaning. After all, you don’t want someone to go to a career that they absolutely hate. So if a person has to chose between (what they view as) an atrocious career in computer science or an interesting career in psychology, it makes sense to encourage the student to go with psychology. But, as the video points out, this may only go so far. After all, why is it that our interests are commonly pursued only half-heartedly whenever we have free time? Because interests are not passion. In contrast to interest, consider this definition for passion: “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.” Synonyms include fervor, ardor, vigor, fire, animation, fanaticism. Why is it that we have fewer passions than interests? Because passion takes up more energy. It’s like comparing a candle to a firework. Candles are pretty and can be nice to look at, but if you’re looking for the explosion, go for the firework.
Reader, what do you think about this video? Do you agree with the concept? If you had to chose, would you say you are pursuing your interests or your passions?