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Don't Follow Your Passion

Don't Follow Your Passion
By August Bradley • Issue #16 • View online
In this Issue:
  • Thoughts + Reflections
  • Personal Performance Roundup
  • Human Knowledge
  • Our World Transforming
  • Business Transforming

Hi everyone, conducting back-to-back Zoom meetings all week I feel as though my office is a space capsule from which I’m in constant satellite communication with mission control and the home tv audience.
Watching the real NASA/SpaceX spacemen in their real space capsule return to earth, I felt a sense of relatability. Wish I too had zero gravity. 👨‍🚀
A huge welcome to our 1,004 new subscribers since our last issue! Good timing, the party is just getting started. 🎈
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And this is the Archive of Back Issues
Thoughts + Reflections
I wrote another essay for this issue, a practical and sensible one. But in the end I found it boring so am scrapping it and instead will free-flow some thoughts I’m feeling more passionate about.
My impulses are pulling in two diametrically opposed directions, linked by a thin but resilient thread. Forgive me for the parallel points intertwined in today’s reflections.
When & How to Follow Your Passion
I was invited to create a chapter of the Hasselblad Masters Book in 2008, an art book recognizing leading artistic photographers. The book’s theme was “Passion” and required all the contributing artists to answer the question “What does passion mean to you?”. Others wrote paragraphs, I submitted one sentence:
“Passion is the fire that drives you to pound against a brick wall until you break through.” 
I still believe this. Passion has to be tested by adversity to prove itself. It has to fuel you to overcome hardship to be worthy of the title. Passion without sacrifice and adversity is merely a fleeting pleasure cruise. Sooner or later you will see if it’s truly a passion within you. It rarely is. And yet true passion will empower you to do superhuman things.
I also believe the standard career advice “follow your passion” is terrible advice. That’s advice successful people give after they’re already accomplished and focusing on their passions — out of touch with the realities of building against the wind with few resources and nothing to fall back on. I know this because I followed my passion and got my teeth kicked in, just as everyone does on that path. Those of us who were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the other side are covered with the scars to show for it. It’s such a brutally hard path to break through that brick wall. 
Which is where the two conflicting thoughts intersect. At the brick wall.
The paths that our passions lead us down are super hard. The hardest. Because we’re not the only ones led in these directions. They’re bright shiny beacons with heroic stories of people who have successfully pursued these directions, written with deeply embedded survival bias.
The passion-paths are filled with people who will do it for free. People doing it for fun, doing it to get a foot in the door. They’re filled with clients ready to exploit that massive pool of people eager to live their dreams.
Dream jobs pay far less. Part of your pay is living the dream, a large part. Hollywood studios exploit this. Any creative outlet exploits this. Dream freelance paths are flooded with competition.
But without passion in your work, in your pursuit of your goals, you’ll never get very far. Passion is the most potent fuel to move forward, to advance and reach the next plateau.
So what to do? I see two viable paths:
(1) Probably the best path, the one with the highest probability of success, is to learn to find passion in unconventional places rather than professionally follow the obvious passion you’ve been harboring. Find meaningful functions within unglamorous contexts rather than pursue the sexy environments. I find designing elegant systems is a rewarding art form that can be applied to any context or ongoing responsibility. And the successful implementation of well designed processes is massively emotionally rewarding, aside from paying practical dividends.
You can watch your creation (the system on the satisfying task you’ve chosen) deliver results beyond anyone’s expectation, it gives you powers and makes you a star performer. It becomes an extension of you and being good at something feels amazing. Initial success will foster more passion for it, compelling you to take it further, yielding more positive results and more excitement and more commitment to pour back in. Feedback loops again, for our long-term readers. Passion will be the result, where you never expected to find it — this emerging passion will drive escalating success, and in turn further amplify your passion.
(2) If you can envision yourself being happy doing #1, do yourself a favor and go that way. Because #2 is war. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes we have a voice inside our heads that will not let us go. Sometimes we simply must pursue a particular calling as a part of our being. The burning need must be this intense to go down this path.
You will properly be advised by sensible people to take a more sensible path, and you need to be adamant about the passion-path if you choose to go this way. Then you unload everything you have upon it. You have decided to go through the brick wall. But you don’t have to go through head first, or claw at it with your bare hands. Again, build systems to leverage your power, to multiply your force. Compound impact against the wall more and more over time. The systems you build to perform and deliver on this path will determine the force you deliver against the wall. And brick walls require immense force.
Either way, you need to cultivate and harness passion to progress and achieve any compelling definition of success. No way around it. Without passion you will wallow in the mundane, counting the minutes. Stuck.
If the passion is already burning and obvious and you cannot resist it, commit to it with all you have.
If you feel stagnant and absent of any fire, look for the satisfaction in the simple activities of your life and work — find it, cultivate it. When you see a glimmer, protect that little flame and add kindling. Shelter it from the wind until it gains strength. Then add more fuel and let it grow. Follow where it takes you.
…the Essay in Issue #10 has related thoughts if you’re new to the series.
Join me on Twitter @augustbradley
Currently in @khemaridh's Q&A with @augustbradley. Excited!

Will keep notes in a thread here, follow along if you can't make it to the Zoom call or bookmark this to check it out later.

Let's go! ^_^
Q: What does August do?

Help people implement systems and processes to build a better life.
full shared thread here from a generous attendee of my video discussion on Khe Hy‘s show, will share the full video in the next issue after it’s released.
Recent Published Work
I’ve posted several new videos on the Notion System Design YouTube channel the past two weeks, that steady flow will continue. Here are some of the highlights:
Knowledge Vault – Notion Knowledge Management System
Personal Performance Roundup
The Most Overlooked Career Hack
How Productivity Star Thomas Frank Reaches Millions on YouTube
Human Knowledge
Our World Transforming
Business Transforming
Why Jeff Bezos makes Amazon execs read 6-page memos at the start of each meeting
Discovered on Twitter
Jola Tankoka
Your life is just a lagging indicator of how you think.
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
“These are the principles for the development of a complete mind: study the science of art, study the art of science. Realise that everything connects to everything else.” — Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Thanks for Reading!
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The thing I love most about writing this newsletter is follow-up interactions with readers. My hope is this emerges into a community. So please hit me up with any thoughts, questions or ideas. I would love to hear from you.
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