‘Do what you love’. ‘Follow your passion’. ‘Be true to your calling’.
We give people, young and old, this advice only too often. Digging a little deeper reveals it to be bad advice.
‘Do what you love’, essentially means doing that which energizes and captivates your attention in the moment. It implies that we should only stick to doing whatever we would enjoy doing for hours at an end.
Alas, expertise in any craft isn’t a one-way street of pleasure. Once the excitement and the novelty wears out, boredom and repetition sets in. You face frustrating problems against which you don’t make headway. Levelling up is harder – you are forced to repeat a procedure 30 times instead of 3 times before you can go onto the next level.
Meanwhile, our mind is ready to switch to countless other shiny new ‘passions’. ‘Perhaps computer programming wasn’t my thing. Let me switch to selling bicycles instead’.
The alternative is to stick to one thing – to persevere through pain, boredom and frustration until you become an expert.
Amateurs do what they love. Professionals love what they do.