Why “follow your dreams/passion” may be a misleading mantra for success

Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3u9r5e
Image Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3u9r5e

“Follow your dreams/passions!” That phrase is always present in most, if not in every commencement exercise. You can also hear that whenever an athlete or an artist wins an award – follow your dreams/passion!

But have we spent some time assessing whether that phrase is actually beneficial? Sure, it may be beneficial for someone who almost gave up on life, for it can ignite his hope and pump his heart. Of course, persistence is a virtue. Keeping in the track is never a wrong thing to do. But the real question is this: should we really say that mantra to all people?

Well, I thought of some things to consider before doing so.

First, we don’t know what other people’s dreams or passion. How do we know that one’s passion is not actually disastrous to one’s life, if not towards others? We simply don’t. Hitler’s dream was to build a planet with stronger people by eliminating the weaker ones. Marx’s passion was to crush the capitalists in order to give birth of a classless society. Moreover, a child can dream passionately of being tiger.

Second, we don’t share the same opportunities. Let’s face it, although we are born with equal value and dignity as human beings created in the image of God, unfortunately, we are not born with equal state of affairs. Some are born privileged, while others are born in poverty and obscurity. Some are born in countries where dreams can flourish, while others can’t even render a time to even dream, perhaps because of the toughness of life. A boy born in a wealthy family, who dreams to be pilot has far greater opportunity to be one, compared to a boy born in a lower caste in India. That is, regardless how passionate the latter boy is. A smart girl in the U.S. who wants to become an astronaut has far greater opportunity to get some academic scholarships compared to another witty girl in an obscure country who can barely even eat.

Lastly, even talents are not equal. Abilities differ regardless of how passionate one can be. An overwhelmed winner of an X-factor can tell you that – you should not let anyone tell you you can’t do it –  betrays the fact that thousands of people passionately lined up for the same show and never made it. That is, they were obviously told that they can’t make it.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not despise dreaming and having a deep-seated passion for something remarkable. In fact, I got a lot of dreams too. And I am passionate towards it. I even get too ambitious sometimes. On the other hand, I’m also not saying that that boy in India or the witty girl in an obscure country must stop dreaming. Far from it! In fact, I’m fully aware of certain stories of people who started very low, yet succeeded in life in a way unimaginable.

Rather, what I’m saying is that it is foolishness to stay and just dream of something unrealistic when there are certain opportunities available to grab, although with lesser amount of grand. For time is running and we can’t afford to miss some opportunities.

To go extreme, Mike Rowe, the CEO of mikeroweWORKS Foundation, argued that we should never follow our passions. Although persistence is good, but “staying in the course only makes sense if you’re headed in a sensible direction. And while passion is way too important to be without, it is way too fickle to follow around.” So instead of following your passions, bring your passions with you. Because “when it comes to making a living, it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”[1]

As F.B. Meyer: “Don’t waste your time waiting and longing for large opportunities which may never come. But faithfully handle the little things that are always claiming your attention.”

In conclusion, I think we should minimize using that phrase every time we want to cheer up people.

What do you think?


[1] https://www.prageru.com/courses/life-studies/dont-follow-your-passion

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