You Will Fail: A Motivational Speech

Dear Reader,

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?


Jumbled Writer


20 Responses to You Will Fail: A Motivational Speech

  1. I agree that your work should be a passion, not an interest. The video is very much right in my mind. It makes sense that you would pursue your interests when you had free time. But it’s not always easy to pursue your passions – if the ‘real world’ intervenes and I guess that’s where/why the word procrastinate arises maybe?

    • I agree that the real world doesn’t always allow you to pursue your passions full-time, but I would hope that the passion is intense enough so that procrastination is not an issue.

  2. Have to concur with this thesis. When your passionate about doing something, the fact that you can make a living doing it is a pleasant surprise. You’d pay to do it if you could afford it.

    Thanks for stopping by my place earlier.


  3. Passion is indeed important but without the hard work, passion is just emotion. But all in all I think the TED talk was right. Nice blog and thanks for visiting my blog. You’re invited to come back Friday for another free flash fiction story.

    • You raise a good point. Passion should be the foundation, but hard work should be the second step. Though hopefully the passion helps the hard work feel less like work and more like devotion.
      I think I will return for another story. Thank you.

  4. I unequivocally follow my passion. It’s what drive me to be me. You are right, I have many interests, from the simplistic to the complex, but they are just things I might want to do. But, a passion doesn’t dissipate. It grows like a raging fire and is not extinguished until it is fulfilled.

  5. Wow. I haven’t watched the video, yet. I have always said that I would rather have a job that I enjoy than a job that I hate getting out of bed for.

    Interestingly, I was made redundant from my job as an accountant in October and I am planning on starting my own practice. But after reading this post, I am struck by the fact that I am more passionate about my writing! What a dilemma.

      • That’s what I’m doing at the moment. Because of a change in family commitments I would like to spend more time at home. So I have spent the last few weeks preparing to start my own accounts practice from home, and, in the meantime, I have been trying to make sure that I also write something every day. My plan is to launch my practice during January.

        • I’ve never done that (start a practice from home), but I imagine that it would be scary at first–and perhaps for some time after that. I wish you the best with your endeavor.

  6. Watching that video makes you think. One thing that really stuck out to me is when he said that people settle for doing interesting things, instead of passionate things. I will admit that I let fear and laziness hold me back from doing a lot of things I know I’m capable of. I’m at the state of my life where I need to discover my passion quickly.

    • Fear can be a big part of not pursuing something. It always seems to revolve around the unknown, which is frightening, but at a certain point it becomes less frightening than staying stuck in the place you are at. I am slowly learning this. I wish you well.

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