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Turn Your Passion into Profit

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What is aiming for both passion and profit isn't the best pursuit?

That’s what I’ve been saying for decades. But there might be another perspective worth hearing. What if the better question is passion OR profit?

I am a life-long-learner. I will never stop. Part of that learning involves questioning my own beliefs. I have to put my ego aside and open my mind to other possibilities and new perspectives.

Rich dad taught me,

“All coins have three sides: heads, tails, and the edge.”

He often said that most people only see one side of any coin, causing them to be limited, argumentative, and uninformed. He encouraged his son and me to see the world from the “edge,” often saying to us,

“Intelligent people live on the edge, where they can see both sides of the coin.”

I use the example of a three-sided coin as a metaphor for real intelligence. I say, “real intelligence” because whenever we see life through the prism of “right and wrong,” we become less intelligent.

3 Sides to a Coin

An important quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) that I often refer to is:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

TRANSLATION: The moment you operate from the concept of “right and wrong,” your intelligence is cut in half. This is why standing on the edge of the coin—seeing both sides rather than taking sides—increases your intelligence.

So, it is with an open mind that I want to present the other side of the “passion and profit” coin. One side, the side I’ve been on for decades, says “turn your passion into a business.” This makes it so you love every minute you are working. The famous quote is,

“It’s not work if you love what you are doing.”

But there is another side.

As you know if you’ve read a lot of my blogs, I love the PragerU website ( Their 5-minute videos are amazing and thought provoking. If you want to get smarter in just five minutes, watch any of their videos. The one that got me recently was by entrepreneur and television personality, Mike Rowe. Here is what Mike says in his video:

There are only two things I can tell you today that come with absolutely no agenda. The first is “Congratulations.” The second is “Good luck.” Everything else is what I like to call, “The Dirty Truth,” which is just another way of saying, “It’s my opinion.”

And in my opinion, you have all been given some terrible advice, and that advice, is this:

Follow your passion

Every time I watch the Oscars, I cringe when some famous movie star—trophy in hand—starts to deconstruct the secret of their success. It’s always the same thing:

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have what it takes, kid!”; and the ever popular, “Never give up on your dreams!”

Look, I understand the importance of persistence, and the value of encouragement, but who tells a stranger to never give up on their dreams, without even knowing what it is they’re dreaming? How can Lady Gaga possibly know where your passion will lead you?

Have these people never seen American Idol?

Year after year, thousands of aspiring American Idols show up with great expectations, only to learn that they don’t possess the skills they thought they did.

What’s really amazing though, is not their lack of talent—the world is full of people who can’t sing. It’s their genuine shock at being rejected—the incredible realization that their passion and their ability had nothing to do with each other.

Look, if we’re talking about your hobby, by all means let your passion lead you.

But 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.

And just because you’ve earned a degree in your chosen field, doesn't mean you’re gonna find your “dream job.”

Dream Jobs are usually just that—dreams.

But their imaginary existence just might keep you from exploring careers that offer a legitimate chance to perform meaningful work and develop a genuine passion for the job you already have. Because here’s another Dirty Truth: your happiness on the job has very little to do with the work itself.

On Dirty Jobs, I remember a very successful septic tank cleaner, a multi-millionaire, who told me the secret to his success:

“I looked around to see where everyone else was headed,” he said, “And then I went the opposite way. Then I got good at my work. Then I began to prosper. And then one day, I realized I was passionate about other people’s crap.”

I’ve heard that same basic story from welders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, HVAC professionals, hundreds of other skilled tradesmen who followed opportunity—not passion—and prospered as a result.

Consider the reality of the current job market

Right now, millions of people with degrees and diplomas are out there competing for a relatively narrow set of opportunities that polite society calls “good careers.” Meanwhile, employers are struggling to fill nearly 5.8 million jobs that nobody’s trained to do. This is the skills gap, it’s real, and its cause is actually very simple: when people follow their passion, they miss out on all kinds of opportunities they didn’t even know existed.

When I was 16, I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps. He was a skilled tradesman who could build a house without a blueprint. That was my passion, and I followed it for years. I took all the shop classes at school, I did all I could to absorb the knowledge and skill that came so easily to my granddad.

Unfortunately, the handy gene is recessive. It skipped right over me, and I struggled mightily to overcome my deficiencies. But I couldn’t. I was one of those contestants on American Idol, who believed his passion was enough to ensure his success.

One day, I brought home a sconce I had made in wood-shop that looked like a paramecium. After a heavy sigh, my granddad gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. He told me, "Mike, you can still be a tradesman, but only if you get yourself a different kind of toolbox."

At the time, this felt contrary to everything I believed about the importance of "passion" and persistence and "staying the course." But of course, he was right. Because “staying 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.

Which brings us to the final Dirty Truth. “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”

Congratulations, again - and good luck.

I’m Mike Rowe from mikeroweWORKS, for Prager University.

Robert Kiyosaki

Mike makes a great argument. One that is hard to ignore. I am still thinking it through. It is very possible that both views can be right at the same time. A different person requires a different direction.

When it comes to turning your passion into a business, I am going to stay on the edge longer, maybe forever. And that is okay. The entire world does not have to be black or white, right or wrong. Sometimes there are multiple solutions to one problem.

Thanks to Mike Rowe and PragerU. You can visit PragerU here to expand your mind so much more. And if you’d like to watch Mike’s video, click here.

Original publish date: June 09, 2021

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