Careers

Using Your Passion Against You

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I caught this latest episode of Adam Grant’s podcast on whether following your passion is good advice. (hint, it’s probably not)

It is interesting stuff overall, but the one line that is sticking with me is about zookeepers. “Zookeepers who felt their work was their calling were more likely to give up their own time to, say, care for an animal. In other words, they were more vulnerable to being exploited by management.”

How many other industries are there where that applies? And, does it explain why startup founders are always going on about finding employees who are passionate about the work? Because they are willing to do more, for less?

At what point does being an engaged, passionate, employee crossover into accepting less value for your time and efforts than you should? At what point is it actually detrimental to your health, life, and career?

I don’t know that I have an answer for that. The answer is probably something personal, and different, for each of us. But it’s worth thinking about.

At what point does being an engaged, passionate, employee crossover into accepting less value for your time and efforts than you should? Click To Tweet

For example. If you’ve seen the HBO documentary about Theranos, I think you could see that not only Elizabeth Holmes, but many of the employees, were so caught up in creating this life-changing technology, that they stopped looking at the big picture, and started acting incredibly unethically. They lied about how medical tests were being done, and gave incorrect results in the name of keeping the company moving forward toward something that probably couldn’t actually be done. But they were passionate about it, they believed in the cause, and the Silicon Valley way, so much that now some of them are going to jail for it.

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It seems crazy that anyone would do that, but when you understand the culture, I don’t think it’s so crazy.

It is, however, incredibly dangerous.

Adam doesn’t talk about Theranos, but he does have quite a few examples of people who stumbled into jobs they feel passionate about, instead of trying to find their passion and then a career. It’s worth listening to, or sharing with your younger contacts who are just starting out.

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