When the billionaire entrepreneur Steve Jobs gave Stanford University’s commencement address in June 2005, he rallied graduates to follow their hearts. “Your time is limited,” said Jobs. “So, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. … Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Over time, the phrase “follow your heart” morphed into “follow your passion” and then spawned countless graduation speech sound-alikes.
It’s “garbage advice,” says startup expert Michal Bohanes. “One of the great lies of life,” says billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. The computer scientist Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, says Jobs’s blissful view of life “is “not particularly useful” and worse, it’s “tautological.” Hammering the nail in the coffin of Jobs’s wisdom, two Stanford University researchers conducted a 2018 study—not far from the stadium where Jobs gave his speech—and concluded that “following your passion” or your heart may lead to more failure than success.
Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University whose subscription business L2 sold for $155 million, has for years called passion advice “bull----.” In a recent Time article titled “4 Pieces of Advice Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You,” Galloway argues instead that praxis follows passion. “Your job is to find something you’re good at,” and after practicing and refining it, “get great at it,” he writes. “The emotional and economic rewards that accompany being great at something will ...1
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