Once upon a time, you did what your father did before you.
If your father was a blacksmith, you became a blacksmith.
If your father was a barber, you became a barber.
If your father was a baker, you became a baker.
There was no such thing as following your passion. You made your living the same way the person who brought you into this world made a living.
As someone who makes a living as a creative, I’m wildly thankful this is no longer the case.
However, I think there is a lesson that can be pulled from what once was, and that’s this idea of something called mastery.
Or, as Luke Powell would call it, staying in your lane.
Stay in your lane.
Luke Powell is one of my best friends and the wildly talented creative director I chose for the launch of my upcoming book, One Minute, Please?
The two of us were born and raised in Southern Indiana, in the same city where pursuing a career doing something creative wasn’t necessarily frowned upon, but certainly far from normal.
Naturally, we leaned on one another often for inspiration, guidance and encouragement. We still do.
Just the other day, the two of us were having an interesting conversation on the role dedication plays in mastering one’s craft.
Luke was telling me a story about a photographer and videographer we had grown up with.
He was absolutely brilliant. In his twenties, he had everything a budding talent could ask for. He was making a living doing what he loved. He had a large Instagram following applauding his every move. High-profile musicians had even begun to hire him to document all the dreamy moments that happen on tour.
He literally had it all (or so it seemed from the outside looking in) and then, practically out of nowhere, he decided to drop the camera entirely and do something bat-shit crazy — become the individuals he was capturing — he decided to try his luck at being a musician.
After sharing the story with me, Luke paused to gather his thoughts and then he said something fascinating…
“I’m beginning to realize those that become successful are those that stay in their lane. It’s the people that discover what they’re good at and then dedicate all of themselves to being great at that thing that have a chance.”
I adored his thinking because it’s contrary to much of the bullshit advice internet marketers, and life coaches and Instagram hype-men are spewing out daily…
Follow your passion.
Be an entrepreneur.
Quit your job.
You deserve more than a 9–5.
While all of us are fortunate to live in a world where we can make a living doing something we enjoy, telling young people to “follow their passion” isn’t only bullshit but I would go as far as to say it is detrimental to happiness.
Allow me to explain.
The fallacy of following your passion.
I’m passionate about a lot of things.
I’m passionate about ukulele.
I’m passionate about cocktails.
I’m passionate about design.
I’m passionate about love.
I’m passionate about money.
I’m extremely passionate about all of these things. But, this doesn’t mean I should quit my job as a writer to become a Ukulele star or a bartender or a graphic designer or a relationship coach or an accountant.
Why? Because passion doesn’t always equate to success, nor happiness.
Just because we are passionate about something, doesn’t mean we are good at it, nor that we can make a living doing it, nor that we will still be passionate about that something when it becomes our day job.
Following your passion is a fallacy. It’s terrible advice. If you’re constantly following your passion you will find yourself, like so many confused young people, jumping from career to career to career in search for that thing that sets their soul on fire.
In my opinion, better advice is to find something you’re good at and become great at doing that thing. And, once you become great at doing that thing, follow Luke’s advice — stay in your lane.
As I mentioned earlier, while I’m certainly passionate about writing, I’m passionate about a lot of things. If I could make a living teaching people how to play Ukulele on YouTube, I would consider making a career change…
But, God or the universe didn’t place me on this Earth to be a great ukuleleist. That wasn’t a gift I was given. I was, however, born with an ability to string pretty sentences together. So, I’m dedicating my life to becoming a great writer.
And, this is where we tie all of this back to our grandparents and our grandparent’s parents who didn’t get to choose what they did for a living.
Grandpa might have been happier not following his passion or dedicating himself to one passion.
I don’t believe happiness comes from following your passion. I think happiness comes through mastery; through a deep dedication to one’s craft.
The photographer can be just as happy as the blacksmith or the baker or the carpenter or the accountant or the doctor or the teacher because they are committing themselves to greatness in their craft.
Where we stumble away from happiness is when we attempt to seek happiness in an outcome rather than the journey to the outcome.
Not to mention, I think many of the things young people are claiming to be passionate about aren’t things they are actually passionate about but rather things that capture the public eye.
Are we really passionate about becoming a professional athlete, a famous musician or an actor? Or, are we passionate about the applause that shit brings?
At the way we salivate over likes and comments and followers, I’d guess the latter.
However, I am a bit of a dreamer, so I would like to give the last bit of parting advice…
If you’re doing something you don’t enjoy nor are good at, and want to pursue something else, do it but do it wisely.
You can get to where you’re wanting to go without being reckless; without quitting your job tomorrow, or completely dropping whatever it is you’re making a living at.
Whatever you want to call it — your passion, your dream, etc — can be achieved thoughtfully, strategically.
When I was building Honey Copy, I was spending 30–40 hours a week working construction in the mornings and early afternoons and then dedicating myself to writing and building my writing business in the evenings.
All of us are born with an affinity for something. And, if we dedicate our hearts and our souls and our minds and our lives to that something, we can do the extraordinary — we can become great.
And, when we become great at doing something and do that something daily, we aren’t just serving ourselves and our own happiness, but we are serving our children and our unborn children and our friend’s children and our friend’s unborn children and the world.
We are serving the entire world because every day we are making it slightly better than it was yesterday because we are performing our gifts at the highest level of play.
But, that doesn’t come from “following your passion”, that comes through dedication, mastery and staying in your fucking lane.
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