The passion excuse

Over and over I have excused myself for not doing my best at work because of a sense of lack of purpose in my job. It’s not my passion, I would repeat myself, demeaning the task at hand. Why should I put effort into something that is just a task, I’d reason.

The narrative of the ideal career, a calling, where I would find fulfillment and a sense of belonging had been inculcated in me since youth. I never doubted it. Why should I, it makes sense, idealistically. I would have made a good engineer, my mom keeps repeating. I shouldn’t have studied business, I would reply. I was excusing myself.

But there is another approach – what Cal Newport calls the “way of the craftsman” – where there are no excuses; where the purpose is not to find passion but to be passionate. To extend and expand the self until it encompasses passion. It’s an approach that focuses on self-improvement and developing a love for one’s craft. It’s a better approach, a self-fulfilling prophecy.