Recently I’ve been hearing and reading a lot of career advice from people who try to bash the whole ‘do what you love’ idea.
And because I’m curious, I’ve spent some time reading and listening to what they have to say (just google ‘do what you love is bad advice’).
But I don’t buy it.
The whole argument is that you should become good at what you do, and ultimately you will learn to love your work because you’re good at it.
But here’s the thing: Let’s say it takes 10.000 hours to master your job/skill. How can you spend 10.000 hours doing what you hate?
Also, some critics of the ‘do what you love’ idea are straight-up pessimists.
They say shit like, “you don’t have a choice; shut up and do your work. Work is not supposed to be fun.” That makes me laugh.
They pretend that people are soft these days. And that in the ‘good old days’ people would just work and not complain.
Well, It’s not the 20th century anymore. For the most part, the world has evolved. Also, one of my mentors is 71, even he says people who say that kind of stuff are pessimists.
There’s another group of people that tries to make fun of the ‘do what you love’ movement. They think they’re comedians, and say shit like, “do what you love? I love to eat Oreos all day and watch Netflix. Does that count? Wahaha.”
If you say that kind of stuff, you’re either completely out of touch with reality, or you think you’re funny (but you’re not).
Anyway, enough bashing from my side. The real reason I believe in the ‘do what you love’ advice is straightforward. I’ve read a lot about people I admire and all of them loved what they did when they started. Not when they became experts or successes.
In this article, I highlight only three of those people.
1. Warren Buffett—don’t live in the future.
Honestly, the man doesn’t need an introduction. But one thing that a lot of people don’t know is that Buffett is a very jolly guy. He’s a man that goes “tap-dancing” to work.
He also has a great sense of humor. Just read this piece of career advice:
“Go to work for an organization or people you admire. It will turn you on. You ought to be happy where you are working. I always worry about people who say ‘I’m going to do this for 10 years’ and ‘I’m going to do 10 more years of this.’ That’s a little like saving sex for your old age. Not a very good idea. Get right into what you enjoy.”
That’s from “Buffett and Gates on Success”. The most important part is to do things now, not later. Most of us live in the future.
We believe that going through a job or a degree that you hate, will give you a better life in the future. Says who? There are no guarantees in life.
To me, Warren Buffett is not a success because he’s a billionaire, but because he truly enjoys what he does.
Just ask anyone who has ever visited the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting.
Another piece of career advice that Buffett gives is to simply look at people you admire. And then write down why you admire those people.
He also recommends looking at people you least admire. And write down what qualities turn you off in that person.
Now comes the most interesting part. Buffett argues that the qualities that we admire about people are all things that we can master ourselves with a little practice.
In other words: Study people who you admire and make their good habits your own. It’s a trick that Benjamin Franklin also used.
2. Steve Jobs—work is a large part of your life.
Another person who gives credible career advice is Steve Jobs. His quote is widely used, but there are still a lot of people who ignore it. Jobs says:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
How on earth can you argue with that? And like the Buffett quote, what Jobs says is extremely practical.
You spend most of your time at work. You better enjoy it. Because; anything other than enjoyment is a pure waste of life. And whoever said you can’t enjoy hard work? Work that matters is never easy.
3. Ella Fitzgerald—with love and inspiration, you can never go wrong.
Buffett and Jobs are great. But I even look up to Ella Fitzgerald more than those guys.
Here’s a woman who lost her mother at age 15, didn’t have a stable home after that, was put into an orphanage, was sent away, and finally was homeless for a time. Not to forget that this all happened in the 1930s in America; a tough period to live in, especially if you were not white.
And yet, Ella Fitzgerald grew up to become the Queen of Jazz, won 14 Grammy awards, and is widely recognized as one of the best (if not the best) jazz singers of all time.
Why? You could give me a crappy story about talent and all. But similarly to the stories that you can become good at something you don’t love, I also don’t believe that talent is the determining factor.
I’ve read too many biographies about people who came from nothing and turned themselves into a success by hard work and determination.
The common theme when it came to career advice? They loved what they did. From Theodore Roosevelt to Conor McGregor.
And about doing what you love, Ella Fitzgerald once said:
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
Let’s just leave it at that.
I’m going to sit down and listen to Dream A Little Dream Of Me, and after that, I’m tap dancing back to my desk.
And if you’re not ready to join me, don’t give up just yet. Because everyone can become a tap dancer—you just have to want it bad enough.