Gen Y’s Passion Problem
By Cal Newport – Harvard Business Review
Generation Y, is entering the job market in record numbers, and according to many commentators things are not going well. Earlier this year, a New York Times op-ed called Gen Y “Generation Why Bother,” noting that we’re “perhaps…too happy at home checking Facebook,” when we could be out aggressively seeking new jobs and helping the economy recover.
To many, the core problem of this generation is that Gen Y is too entitled. Cal Newport argues that the problem is to do more with being misinformed arguing that this generation was raised according to the ethos of “follow your passion”
This simple phrase, “follow your passion,” turns out to be surprisingly pernicious.
It implies that you start by identifying a passion and then match this preexisting calling to a job. Because the passion precedes the job, it stands to reason that you should love your work from the very first day. Yet often people’s passion develops slowly, can be unexpected and complicated. It’s rare, to find someone who loves their career before they’ve become very good at it — expertise generates many different engaging traits, such as respect, impact, autonomy — and the process of becoming good can be frustrating and take years.
The early stages of a fantastic career might not feel fantastic at all, Members of Generation Y often demand a lot from their working life immediately and are often disappointed with their experiences.
The tough skill-building phase at the beginning of a person’s career can provide the foundation for a wonderful career, but in this common scenario the “follow your passion” dogma would tell you that this work is not immediately enjoyable and therefore is not your passion.
Steve Jobs, for example, in his oft-cited Stanford Commencement address, told the crowd to not “settle” for anything less than work they loved. Jobs clearly loved building Apple, but as his biographers reveal, he stumbled into this career path at a time when he was more concerned with issues of philosophy and Eastern mysticism.