Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Might Be the Worst Career Advice You Could Follow

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This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Currently the average age of entrepreneurs in Mexico is 33 years. Of course, there are very young entrepreneurs … and others who already have gray hair start and achieve success. What is certain is that, today, millennials represent more than 80% of new ventures. And if there is one piece of advice that millennials have been given thousands of times, it is this: “follow your passion.”

Entrepreneurship is not the same as being successful. Very few entrepreneurs “hit it” the first time, and most great entrepreneurs know it. Once the CEO of Tajín, today a successful multinational company, told me with complete confidence: “I have bankrupted more companies than I have managed … and there were several moments when I thought about closing Tajín.” But perseverance pays, and each defeat becomes a new stepping stone to the future.

If you have ever thought about starting your business or have you wondered where do I start? Perhaps you have met a friend, your parents, a teacher or a supposed expert who will tell you: follow your passion!

Bad business

“Follow your passion!”

This is perhaps the most common advice… and one that can cause the most damage. The modern world offers us thousands of options, and it sounds tempting to “follow your passion” because, as they say, “that way you will never really have to work.” In truth, who could contradict this logic?

However, the logic falls apart very quickly. You know – and I do too – many people who try to follow their passion, but never get off the ground, or feel satisfied, happy or free. In the end, they end up working on whatever it is and dedicate their weekends – if they are lucky – to their passion. These are the people who hate Mondays, the ones who never found their place in the world.

And, although doing something that you are passionate about is very important , it is not enough to find a path that will lead you to success.

When asked “where do I start?” or “what business do I choose?” It is not enough to say “do what you love!” the correct answer has three steps:

  1. Identify your talent.
  2. Connect with your passion.
  3. Learn the business!

These are just the first three steps. Passion is a powerful feeling that drives us, but like all feelings, it can be changeable; and it is certain that some days you will feel less animated than others. Also – and this is very important – the fact that something “you like” or that you “love it” does not mean that you are good.

Passion is not enough

There are people who “love” to sing or whose “passion” is to play soccer. But that is not enough. If you want to be successful, you have to be talented. Talents are different for everyone, and discovering yours can be the most defining moment of your existence. Talents are natural to us, we were born with them, and it is our duty to develop them.

The ideal place to start a business or career is within what Ken Robinson calls “the element,” which is the point where your passions and talents connect:

In the environment of success, your talent is the first step . You have to do something that you are good at and, furthermore, you can improve with training, practice and study. I’m going to tell you something that may sound cruel, but someone has to tell you: If you have two left feet, it doesn’t matter that you feel passionate about playing soccer: you can never be a professional. If you are 1.45 tall, it doesn’t matter that you have a passion for basketball; most likely we won’t see you at the Olympics.

So start by looking in the mirror and asking yourself what is your talent? If you don’t know, ask those who know you. Now advance it even further; make yourself the best doing what you do. Author Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling book “Out of Series” (Outliers) states that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop talent to a level of excellence. It is not enough to have talent; you have to develop it. But spending time doing something that you have no talent or love for, will be a purgatory and a waste of time.

The third step: make money on your element

There are those who choose their career because they believe that money can be made in it. But beware! There are successful people (and money) in all activities. There are millionaire athletes, accountants and lawyers, but also poets, dancers, teachers and writers. That which you do well and that you love can turn into a very brilliant career! Money is everywhere. The difference is in the way we apply our element to the business format.

So, no, talent and passion are not enough either. There are excellent actors that nobody hires, or great singers who do not reach a fortnight. If you’ve found your item, the next step is to learn and understand the business. You have to understand how to make money with that talent. Learn to operate, to sell, to do the accounts, to carry out projects, to collect, to delegate and to grow. That is your business, and no one can do it better than you.

Although there are people who do not agree with what I am going to say, I am sure it is absolutely true: it is worth looking for people and places where you can learn, even if they do not pay you at first , or they pay you very little. Sure, working for free doing something you don’t like is simple exploitation. But if you’re in your element, learning will be the best payoff possible.

Do you have talent and passion for cooking, and do you want to be an entrepreneur? Then you won’t mind spending days and nights working in a restaurant, because you know it’s just one step to keep growing (remember the 10,000 hour rule?). Laws are your thing? So yes, even if you start by making copies, look for a place where you can learn how the business works, how do they find clients, how they carry out the processes, how they hire, how much they charge, what are the risks, crises and headaches ? To be a wealthy lawyer, it is not enough to be a good lawyer, you also have to learn the art of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship has its less fun parts: the numbers, the regulations, the taxes, the annoying customers. Just because you follow your talent and your passion does not mean that everything will be simple and fun. You have to get right into it, learn the machinery and build with vision. This means thousands of hours invested; many errors; many challenges and many sleepless nights.

What I can promise you is this: working within your element will make things four thousand percent easier for you. Finding and knowing your talents and connecting them with your passions will help you go further, faster and with greater pleasure than anything else. Copying deals just because it has worked for others is a career that you will always lose. Instead, discover your own career.

When you are there, at the peak of your own success (no two are alike), others will see you and say: What good luck you are! But you and I know that it is not about luck, but about finding your talent, developing it. and face the challenge of transforming it into a business.

If you are in a career that is not moving forward, ask yourself, am I truly in my element? If the answer is “no,” then stop, open your eyes, and start building. Trust me: it’s never too late to be in the right place.



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