Image by andrewhyde.net via CrunchBase
Last night, I had the pleasure of finally meeting Andrew Hyde, founder of Startup Weekend, currently working at TechStars, the premier venue for starting a startup. He was also a judge and reviewer for last year's Knight News Challenge, helping the Knight Foundation to choose the best innovators to receive $5 million in grants.
And he told me something interesting last night. He asked if I'd seen Mike Rowe's TED talk (I hadn't). Mike Rowe, host of the TV show Dirty Jobs, makes it his living to apprentice to those men and women with the filthiest, smelliest, hardest hands-on jobs out there--the ones that "make civilized life possible for the rest of us," as the show's intro proclaims.
In his TED talk, Mike Rowe gives advice that is counter-intuitive to most of us, in particular the Gen X'ers:'Follow your passion' is the worst advice I ever got.
I blinked. What? Aren't we supposed to love what we do and never work a day again in our lives? Aren't we supposed to rise ourselves out of the sleepwalking daze of working stiffs to live every day to its fullest? And isn't the only way to do that to follow our passions?
Not so, says Rowe:
The ones who really get things done in this world, Rowe insists, are the ones who don't put their passion (or their safety) first. They put the job first. They see a need, and they get things done. They don't worry about the money (although oddly enough, it tends to follow them). They focus on the business of work.
And Rowe brings up another point: as a society, we've declared war on work. We've placed a value on doing less work, and we portray hard workers as heroes or punchlines but nothing in between.
Personally, I'm not likely to be castrating any sheep with my teeth any time soon. But as someone who grew up with the follow-your-passion mantra, Rowe's talk gave me pause. We can't all be idea people. We shouldn't all be creative people. And working hard doesn't mean you're a sucker. Or any less creative, for that matter. It's not about finding your dream job; job satisfaction comes from seeing an opportunity and working your butt off to make it happen.
That doesn't necessarily have to happen on a pig farm. But we'd all do well to remember that it can.