I found this video via 99u today and found it interesting. Ben Horowitz gave a commencement speech at Columbia University, a time when you would normally hear people like him say "follow your passion and you'll succeed!" Being an investor in other people's wildly successful passion projects, you'd think he lives and dies by this mantra. But instead the opposite is true. He starts his contrarian view around the 8:01 mark with these words:
Don't follow your passion.
His American Idol reference makes a lot of sense. Just because you're passionate about something doesn't mean you are going to be doing that for a living (or should be doing it for a living...those auditions are rough).
It reminded me of how I actually got into running.
Growing up, if I had to pick my passion in sports, it would have been basketball. Without hesitation. I loved watching the game (still do). I loved playing the game. However, I was not that great at the game. After not making the basketball team in middle school, one of my best friends suggested that I come out to cross country practice with him one day.
As it turned out, I wasn't half bad at running. I wasn't a natural prodigy or super competitive from the start (I could barely finish two miles on my first practice), but I had just a bit more talent level there than I did at basketball. Since our middle and high schools didn't have a disc golf or ultimate frisbee team, I decided to stick it out with running.
It was a lot of work. It didn't come easy. It wasn't my passion...at first. Over time, I got better at it. I saw progress come little by little over time. As I got better at running, I found my passion for the sport begin to grow as well. Ultimately, I was able to be part of some historic teams for our high school (there's a book about us), get some of my college books paid for and meet all of my future groomsmen...all because I stuck it out at something I was good at, something I was a strong contributor to.
Was I passionate about running? Eventually. Ultimately very passionate (you don't log the amount of miles I did and not have some sort of passion for what you're doing). But not at first.
If I had only followed my passion at all costs and not considered alternatives, I would've been a heck of a water boy for the basketball team. And would've missed out on some of my best memories and opportunities growing up.
What are your thoughts on following your passion? Agree with Horowitz's comments in the video?