Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Passion, profession, both or neither?

A wise man once said "Make your profession your passion. Half your time in this planet will be spent at the workplace". When I first heard this, I felt it was an obvious statement to make. You work in a field that you are passionate about. Otherwise, what's the point in working? Right? Is it not important, at least for everyday contentment that you work in a field you are passionate about?

Before I decided to wear the garb of an Electrical Engineer, I was told by many to “Pursue your passion”, “Follow your passion and get paid for it”, “Turn your passion into profession” etc. Before I started BE, I was not completely sure whether EEE was my passion. I certainly did like EEE. While at Uni, the mere act of engineering something and seeing it work excited me. ‘Liking’ started to develop into passion. When I entered the workforce, the dynamics changed. The bird that was free, independent, doing all acrobatics in the academic world was now caged as it entered the big bad professional/corporate world - the real world. Hold that thought~

It is interesting the wise man (quoted in 1st para) did not say “Make your passion your profession…” This leads to the inevitable question. I ask you, dear reader, have you made your passion your profession? If you ask, “Well have you?” – I have observed most passions follow the theory of natural frequency and damping. They start out with a big surge, slowly dwindle and eventually die out over time. Some passions (e.g. cricket, violin) are reignited occasionally, but they are merely bright flashes than raging flames. I am slowly realising the damping theory seems to apply with my ‘passion’ for my current specific field of work (not Electrical Engineering as a whole, please. I don’t want that to happen!). The passion is ‘damped’ because of some reasons which I don't want go into. ~The bird wants to fly again. I like Obama’s campaign tag line (with a minor modification): The change that I need.

I’ll cut the crap and go to my questions:

Profession is to make a living. Why is that when you turn or attempt to turn, your passion into profession you don’t seem to enjoy it anymore?

Is it because - Passion is synonymous to art. Art doesn't come out well when forced. Art, like passion, comes from ones heart. Passion/Art does not flow if you force or pressurise (due to professional needs)? (What about pro artists then? Oh God. LOL). Profession is like science. Science adheres to logic. Science, like profession, whether forced/unforced can be done regardless. Passion/Art almost always can only take its natural course. When you force it, you lose it. Do you agree?

So, does it mean that passion can remain ONLY as passion and not as profession?

If you say “NO. Passion can also be as profession. I see a Tendulkar, a Rahman, a Jordan follow their passion. Don’t you think they are enjoying their profession...sorry passion? Both?” Tendulkar, ARR, Jordan et al are geniuses. They are products of Providence to show Man how good he can be. They can not be used as examples. They are glorious exceptions. To put it rudely, they are freaks. I am just an extraordinarily ordinary person. I am neither a genius nor a freak. There are many people like me. This thought/question is ubiquitous in our minds.


Feel free to post your thoughts, opinion, questions, kindal, nakkal, thuppal...


  1. agree completely except on one point, they are not just completely succesful because of luck, but more thru hardwork but yes, in a nutshell, when we do our passion as a profession, its not our passion anymore

  2. hmm.. fantaastic topic to argue about.. i'll mention it for debating teams next..my thoughts: this used to cross my mind all the time.. i knew i got into engineering knowing i was not really interested in it.. but just pursuing it as a prestige .. if ur an engineer ur looked up on.. actually after completing it, i realised that you are looked up on when u do something that benefits a community of people. when that u produce benefits many, it gives personal satisfaction even if you have not produced ur best work, you're still happy to see other's happy. It is because every one wants to be loved. im deviating from the topic. what im trying to say is when your profession is based on attaining personal satisfaction, then you are pursuing a profession that is worth contributing a lot of your time. although not necessarily your passion. im tech support - TRUST ME .. IT AINT my passion. passion is you are quite right, - something that touches your soul. when you do something that that i guess could produce immense amount of seretonin in your body and when you do it with your full self, it comes out beautiful. It is something you do without the expectation of wanting an external force to give you a satisfaction guarantee as it comes from within. An artist (dancer) performs in full flow regardless of having an audience as it is food to their soul. music is the same ofcourse.. earning a livelihood out of it is an added benefit.. however, you are right in the sense that when the performer's moot changes from being an artist to being a professional for livelihood - that grey area is i guess in your terms science, comes into play. we all need it.. as it is a requirement - affected by our societal norms - we are no more just want food shelter clothing, we want status, we want prestige but more than ever, we want acknowledgement... when you get all you want, we want to NO we need to know how to react when we ACTUALLY get what we want and that is where ARR, Jordan Einstein are remarkable.. they not only are one of the few who got to devote more time to provide food for the soul.. but are able to stay grounded, remind themselves where they came from and have gratitude whilst accepting success. these are the qualities of people that are able to accept passion with profession. i dont think it is impossible to avoid grey areas that exist between passion and profession as that is a by-product of the chosen path, if i choose to stay in research all my life as it is my passion to find out the reasoning, the meaning, iT will not pay my bills, it will not let me have 'contour cloud' pillows from Guthey Wrenker for a better night's sleep - pursuing a passion is a bliss, being smart and producing dosh for a living during your time in it - is maganey un samathu.. . i hope what im trying to say makes sense da:)..

  3. Interesting topic to debate!!

    //Passion is synonymous to art. Art doesn't come out well when forced. Art, like passion, comes from ones heart. Passion/Art does not flow if you force or pressurise //--------The passion for a profession should not just end once we land in a job, but should sustain through out...Passion is what differentiates Michelangelo from a regular sculpter!!

    Most of the time we awake, we spend at work...So, better love it:-).


  4. vaiji,

    you summed it up nicely in the last sentence: pursue your passion, while earning the moolah - in way that it does not dampen the creativity or lessen the passion ‘fire’- is the way to do it.

    I guess that’s where ‘the knack’ comes into play. when that is found, probably passion can still be profession!

  5. viji,

    true! sometimes when we realise the passion doesn't seem to sustain, it is wise to take a step back to find out what got us kicking in the particular field.

  6. Dude,

    Lets face it! Jordan, Sachin or some genius like them are very rare!

    Honestly when i decided my branch for engineering, i honestly had no idea what other branches like ECE or Mech or Chem had it in them. I took risk by taking CSE in 2k1 when huge recession wave was around and was able to find a decent college for my cut off! Since then upto now, i started to like CSE after i choose! Mind you when i choose CSE i never knew we had subjects like Algo or C Arch etc etc.

    Sometimes in young age you really dont know what you love or what your real passion is! Only very few wise people get what they want in life rest of people somehow are cool about accepting what they get and move on!

    There are so many people who work as teachers, clerks ...even they might be tempted to do software jobs for money but then they stick to it because they love it!

    I conclude by saying this do what u like or like what u do ! Acceptance of whatever we get is another aspect for happiness!!

  7. A very interesting post. I always had the opposite idea. A Hobby gives pleasure. Don't kill it by wringing more than you can get out of it.

    More importantly, We have a variety of interests. We do like to sing but not all the time. We love to dance but not as a profession. We like children but don't want to become nursery school teachers.

    I feel that each person should pursue 3-4 dreams at a time. Any ordinary brain deserves it.

  8. An interesting post.I totally agree that your passion should be your profession as you can take it to any level you want.I am an ordinary woman who practices dentistry with passion.when your patient walks out of your surgery with relief of pain,or painless treatment with loads of laughter and wants to see you again or they see you somewhere but cross the road to talk to you ,you know you have made a difference to them and they appreciate you ,that's a feeling that money can never get you.All of us who work for a living should have the work as the first priority and money the second then passion for your profession will burn for a long time.Trust me I have been a dentist for 22 yrs and I still want to make all my patients happy first and then make money secondly/Try it and you will know the difference

  9. "Passion is synonymous to art. Art doesn't come out well when forced. "

    In a lot of ways I agree, I personally could never make my TRUE hobbies (things I do at a whim, mostly for myself) a career-

    However, there are a lot of kinds of arts- for example, if you look at professional carnatic musicians- their creativity is within RTP or something, which will come out regardless. The only thing is that there might be a financial pressure involved. I'm pretty sure they love it.

    Also performance, or actually selling your art (for a visual artist), is different from 'teaching'. hen you're teaching, there's slightly less 'creativity from the heart'- it's more of a step-by-step theoretical thing. For dancing (the only thing I can talk about from experience), creativity comes out in choreographies. My mom is one of those people who made her passion a career. Not a genius by any means, but she still loves it. There's a LOT of satisfaction that comes from doing that.

    I think, if you are running your own business with this passion, it's almost like two jobs- one is fuelling the passion, and the other is the business aspect. As long as you can seperate those completely it's not too bad.

    I think there's a lot more cases than the genius AR Rahman variety.
    Wow, I just wrote an essay, i have a bad habit of doing that :P

  10. And I just skimmed the past comments, and read about those people in engineering. I have all kinds of hobbies, but I'm in math- because one day I want to be able to take care of myself and support a family- sometimes art is just not good enough :P Who knows if math is even my passion? It just seemed like the logical thing to do. *sigh* now that you mention "half of my time on the planet", I better make it my passion!

  11. "As long as you can seperate those completely it's not too bad."

    in most cases, that is the tricky bit. to keep both aspects independent of each other, or to complement each in a +ve way.

  12. True, but once you make a conscious effort to do it it's not too bad (atleast in dance- my dance guru that I talk about oh-so-often happens to be my mother!)

    Business and arts don't have too much in common, so that makes it easier to seperate. Like submitting taxes for business is a mission and a half- but you'd never stop liking dance because of it. You'd say "I should've never started this business", but you'd never say "I should quit dancing, it's stressful". See the difference? Maybe it's a personal thing?