Oakland University Professor of Engineering Barbara Oakley addresses why following your passion is the worst kind of career advice:

We’re often told “follow your passions” … “find out what you’re good at and then just get better at it”. To my mind, that’s such a mistaken approach because what happens is, people have things they’re good at but somethings take much longer to get good at. And, so if you just write off immediately “hey, I’m only good at these things” and you don’t take the time to get good at other things. Let’s take women for example. We know that developmentally women and men have the same underlying potential for knowing math and science and language—all sorts of things. But there are studies that show that women verbally have a little bit of an advantage early on—they develop a little bit faster verbally. It doesn’t mean they’re slowed mathematically. It just means they are advanced verbally. So what does this mean when they get a little older? Well, they’ve always been a little bit better verbally right. So even though they are just as good as guys mathematically, when they are told “follow your passions” what are they going to do? “Hey, I’m a little bit better verbally. That must be my passion.” So they end up, even though they have the capability, they think they should follow their passions of into sometime disciplines that maybe temporarily fascinating but long-term they don’t lead to as good job prospects. So I always say, “Don’t just follow you passions. Broaden your passions.” And, your life is so enriched if you do that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *