The debate over whether one should choose their career path based on passion or money is one that will likely never be resolved. Passion and money are often lumped together in a promissory way by those who’re giving advice. “Follow your passion and the money will eventually come.”
Please, don’t take what I’m about to say as a negative. I promise, there’s a very enlightened point to be made whence I’m finished with the seemingly vitriolic diatribe that’s to follow. Passion, as it’s often contextualized, usually refers to a specific skill or industry — that if you’re passionate toward a set discipline, you one day make all the money you want.
Unfortunately, as many of you reading this have likely noticed, the reality is that sometimes we’re meant to do something else, career-wise, in order to bank hard, that’s completely different from the tasks and lifelong goals that truly move us.
Dana White and Ronda Rousey (main photo) are both great examples of people who had a single-minded focus toward making their passions into a million dollar career. After reading their stories, you quickly realize that neither just “fell into” their respective jobs, but their passion did get them where they are.
These two, and many others you’ve read about are the exception, not the rule. However, these and many other success stories are the only ones we hear when passion is recommended as the number one ingredient to ascend the mountain to infinite riches.
So, can you follow the lead of passionate people to attain your own high-paying career?
The short and smart answer is mostly no. Passion and money don’t always lead to a favorable end result. The simple fact of the matter is that you can go broke and end up with no retirement fund at all by chasing your passions.
We rarely see spotlights done on those who’ve pursued a passion seeking riches and failed. In the business world, there are so many who’ve tried and failed to make the next million or billion dollar enterprise, only to squander everything they have and watch their life crumble around them while ceaselessly pursuing their goals.
Unfortunately, we only really hear about those who failed — perhaps multiple times for multiple years — before hitting their stride and making a fortune by pursuing a specific passion, like being the best salesman, or the most prolific artist in their discipline. A simple Google search makes it seem like if you just keep plugging along, success and riches will eventually find you — if that’s your goal.
Not everyone can pick up a “pen and paper” while steeped in the midst of poverty and become the first (and I believe) only billionaire author on the planet. Just because you love the idea of civilian space travel doesn’t mean you’ll surpass Richard Branson or Elon Musk in their very passionate mission to make that first successful civilian space flight, etc.
The two aforementioned billionaire business leaders are great examples of why following your passion may not be the ticket to financial greatness or historical recognition for everyone. These men did build businesses with passion, but their passion was for building successful businesses, not necessarily to become rich from the companies they initially built.
Take Musk for an example. His passions, as he’s stated, are two-fold:
- Help mankind hedge our risks by becoming a multi-planetary species (SpaceX).
- To help develop renewable energy sources (Tesla and SolarCity).
There’s no mention of becoming the world’s richest billionaire within those goals. I would imagine a man with this kind of conviction would die a broke man in order to achieve these ultimate passions.
If you think I’m heading off the rails here, I assure you I’m not. Consider that he started Zip2, X.com, and Paypal — and sold them — before he had enough capital to pursue his real passions. It’s also well documented that after selling those companies for hundreds of millions (and some cushy stock options), this man went broke to the point of needing to beg and borrow just to make rent, all in order to finance his true “passions.”
Sure, Musk is independently wealthy now, but had he followed a career path directly toward his two true passions from the get-go, how would massive interplanetary projects like SpaceX, or sustainable energy-focused projects like Tesla or SolarCity ever have got off the ground?
The answer: They couldn’t. He needed the money first, and so found a way to get it by doing things that he didn’t really care much about — they were stepping stones, not something to make him wealthy beyond measure for personal gain.
Did passion get him there? Yes.
Was becoming rich beyond his wildest dreams the ultimate goal? Obviously not…
Passion and money are NOT mutually exclusive.
Perhaps the worst advice ever is to follow your passion and money will eventually come your way. Just ask any sociology or anthropology graduate how well their passion for studying society past and present, pays them. Most would tell you the money never mattered, that the work they do makes them leap out of bed in the morning and that’s enough.
If making lots of money is your ultimate goal, then following your true passions is something that perhaps needs to be relegated to your non-professional time.
For the majority, passion and money aren’t always mutually exclusive. At least not in the way media and celebrity biographies make it out to be.
Sometimes money is, in fact, the passion and you have to follow it instead of doing things that make you happy all day long.
Share your thoughts…
Main Image Credit: MMAmania.com