The Passion Paradox – A Response

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I am writing this article, in response to great article written by Lisis over at Quest For Balance

To give my summary of the article by Lisis:  she was saying that too many people are advocating that we should follow our passion and the money will follow.   Lisis' analogy of the people who write about giving up the day job to pursue our passion is: 'Snake oil salesmen.'

monetize_passionShe made some great points about how making money from our passion is hard work and that we still need business acumen to make it a business and make money from it.   Lisis goes on to explain that being deeply passionate about something doesn't equate to it being a viable income source and that these 'snake oil salesmen' can be dangerous leading us to believe that it's not okay to have a traditional job and we should go out and leave our jobs and work the 4 hour week.

This is a great article and I can totally see Lisis' point of view.   I have my own thoughts on what the 'snake oil salesman' is really saying:

'If you're unhappy with your job there is another way to make money'.

They are speaking to one type of person.

Two types of people

(S)He is speaking to a few people, not everyone, just a comparative few who think 'I don't like following the rest of the crowd.   I want to make it on my own, I want to set my own hours, I want to make my work contribution count, I want to say 'I made a difference in the world.'   Yes you can make a difference in the world working a 9-5 job, but the people who don't want the 9-5 job feel they are not making a difference which is part of the reason they want to follow their passion and their dream of going it alone.

Now, there are very few people in the world like this, most people are happy with their jobs and that's great.   The world needs the two types of people: the person who likes making a difference in the world and getting paid by an employer at the end of each month, and also the person who says 'No! I don't want to be part of the machine, I want to build my own machine.' The likes of: Bill Gates, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Eben Pagan, Michael Dell, Leo Babauta, Darren Rowse etc

It's not being unrealistic to have a goal like this, however, what is being unrealistic is to think that it can happen overnight and that it's easy.   The ones who give up their day jobs in pursuit of the dream without having tested their theories are the ones who will fail miserably and they are also the ones who were laughed at when they bought the snake oil to cure their baldness or make them more attractive to women.

The ones who have a day job and transition over to making their passion their main income are the ones who know there is a market for their work, they have a bit of money to fall back onto should it not work out, they have more income from their passion than they do their day job, they have a business plan, they have the business sense to make it work.   They will also, more than likely, have someone behind them, their partner, who is bringing in money to support the transition.

The School Funneling System

Quitting the rat race is a phrase I hear a lot and it's about empowering oneself, saying to everybody I don't have to have a traditional job to make a contribution to the world, and I don't want to be a sheep.

The reason traditional jobs, in the western society,   are so popular is because we are funneled into them and slotted into jobs like a jigsaw piece, according to our grades at school and how much money our parents had.      The schooling system breeds little cogs that will fit nicely into society and that can do jobs according to abilities and grades at school.

The problem with this is that the school system teaches us to be cogs, they don't teach us to be free thinkers and think about the alternatives in life, it's all about 'Get good grades, you'll get a good job'.   They don't teach us entrepreneurship, business skills, writing a business plan and all the other skills we need to make a business of our own.   They also emphasis left brain thinking and leave right brain thinking to a few token classes like art, philosophy, drama studies, and even these classes are left brain structured.

Now I can hear you say that a lot of schools are teaching business skills and how to run a business and all the skills needed, yes you are right but how many of these schools are privately funded?


To end this little rant, I would like to say that making money from your passion, and the people who advocate this way of living, is an alternative.   It's an attractive alternative to a lot of people but you definitely need more than having a passion to make it, you need marketing skills, business skills, accounting skills, networking skills etc. Is it a viable alternative? without a doubt yes.   Is it okay to have a traditional job and be happy? without a doubt yes.

When you are in the mindset that you want to work for yourself and follow your dream I don't think it is feasible to say 'Love what you do', there needs to come a point when you have everything you need behind you, all the skills, the money pot etc and just go for it, if it fails, at least you can say I went for it.

I would like to thank Lisis and Alison for the inspiration for this rant 🙂   check out their blog Quest For Balance for more thought provoking articles.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.