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Mike Rowe: Don’t Follow Your Passion

Mike Rowe: Don’t Follow Your Passion

“Just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

Mike Rowe teamed up with Prager University to deliver their official video commencement address. You can forget the platitudes about following your dreams and passions, because Rowe keeps it real; practical too.

Rowe challenges the oft-repeated triteness that following your passion is always the best life decision and dishes out a hard truth — just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean you’re good at it:

One of the best anecdotes Rowe provides dates back to his time on the show “Dirty Jobs”. He recounts a conversation he had with a septic tank worker that went a little something like this:

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It’s both healthy and smart to have pursuits you enjoy, but it’s a rarity those passions prove profitable. Rowe’s advice is probably not what every aspiring graduate wants to hear, but sometimes what we want and what we need are two different things entirely.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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I’m passionate about boobies and suck at them…..

According to the Associated Press a federal judge, U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber, has ordered St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s office to release the full unredacted transcripts from the Grand Jury testimony in the Michael Brown shooting case against officer Darren Wilson.

People will now be targeted and killed.

legacyrepublican | June 6, 2016 at 8:18 pm

You mean I can’t take gold in men’s Decathlon in the upcoming Summer Olympics. My dreams are shattered!

With Bruce Jenner out of the way, I finally thought I really stood a chance.

Oh Rowe is me!!!

This is a subject I’ve thought a lot about. Mike Rowe was right, but he didn’t go far enough. To get the job done, you certainly have to have the talent, but you also have to love the work. The essential thing that Mike missed was that there must be an economic demand for what you know how to do. There are many people out there who are extremely talented and who love what they’re doing, but they can’t make a living at it in America. I’m not speaking of starving artists here but, rather, machinists, electronic technicians and engineers, nuclear power plant engineers. Don’t get me started…

    stevewhitemd in reply to snopercod. | June 6, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Mr. Rowe gets at that point at the end: “don’t lead with your passion, but bring it with you.”

    You don’t necessarily have to “love” your job to do it well. My own grandfather said that point well: “There’s a reason why it’s called ‘work’.” You can do a job well for a long time without loving it. You do have to find some meaning in it. For my grandfather, that meaning was the paycheck he brought home to feed four boys, a woodworking shop in the barn out behind the house (his real passion), and the knowledge that he was doing something at work that was useful, and that few other men could do.

    Yes, there has to be a demand for it — otherwise it’s not work, it’s just a hobby. But unlike a hobby, you don’t have to love your work. You just have to find meaning in it.

    Bigurn in reply to snopercod. | June 7, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Snoper, please help me understand what you mean at the end of your comment. Is it a lack of opportunity that exists, or a lack of skills that holds people back?

    The reason I ask is that I cannot find nor hire enough machinists, fabricators, engineers, electricians, etc., at almost any price. These jobs make a very good, very livable wage or salary, but there aren’t enough qualified people doing them.

    What is lacking is good people at these jobs. There are a number of not-so-good applicants. Simple skills gap issues, inability to come to work, etc., are common.

    If we could somehow fill this skills gap, as Mr. Rowe suggests, we would have much better industry than we do today.

      snopercod in reply to Bigurn. | June 7, 2016 at 7:51 am

      I’m retired now, but maybe during my working life I was just in the wrong place or there during the wrong era. My original passion was for electronics so I got a BSEE at a great school that also taught engineers to weld, machine, cast, and bend sheet metal. So I got a job in electronics, but then the entire industry packed up and moved to Japan in the 70s. I worked as a machinist between jobs, but never could earn more than $6 per hour; I had a talent for it, and loved the work, but just couldn’t support my family that way. As luck would have it, a nuclear power plant was being built in my area and I managed to hire on there as an instrumentation technician. I loved that work, too, and really had a talent for it, but that potential career fell off a cliff when the U.S. stopped building power plants in the 80s. I worked as an electrician for a while and that paid well, but it was only a temporary job. So I got my Contractor’s License and tried to get a start in that field, but it never panned out – not enough capital, I guess. Then, in another flash of luck, I was hired on as an instrumentation engineer on the Space Shuttle. Eventually I worked my way up to one of those guys who sat by the big glass windows and directed things. That was really fun (but it didn’t pay as well as working as an electrician). When that program went under, I moved to another state and built another house. When it was done I tried to find any kind of a job in the numerous fields for which I was trained, with no luck whatsoever. Finally, I found a job as a residential electrician, wiring houses for $14 per hour. Then the housing bust came along, so I finally threw my hands up and took early social security. So you can see why I’m a little jaded when I hear about the great, high-paying, jobs in hands-on work. Sorry you asked?

One piece of advice I’d give to young people…

do a thing.

I do (have done) a ridiculous number of things. I am skilled in a number of trades. It is a curse. Part of my personality type.

If I’d settled on one thing, I’d be far better off. If you can, settle on a thing…whatever it is…and do it.

Joseph Campbell used to advise his students to “follow their bliss.” And I am sure you have heard the platitude, if you love what you are doing, you never have to work.

But how many 18 year olds really know what they love or what their bliss is? So you better have a fall back. ????

Ayn Rand described in the Fountainhead how real men respected competency. Which is of course what Mike Rowe is referring to. If you can find bliss and competency, Katie bar the door!

Good advice given to a generation of children raised on feel good, rainbow platitudes. Listen well and ponder the message.

CloseTheFed | June 7, 2016 at 8:41 am

Too many people claim they want to work, but can’t show up on time.

They can’t take their eyes off of their cell phones. I watched a 20-something mow my yard with a push mower and in one hand he had his cell phone, which he couldn’t take his eyes off of. It was disheartening.

Too many people act as if they are too good to empty the trash. Seriously. I’ve been self-employed for the better part of 30 years. I take out the trash when it needs to go. Hire a secretary, and they are too good for it. What is that about?

Tried to hire a woman part-time, but she wouldn’t take it, because her unemployment paid better. Fine. Let me pay the taxes for your unemployment so you can stay home and eat bon bons while I work for you.

The fact is when you provide many alternatives to work — living with parents, unemployment, food stamps, section 8 housing, medical care for “free,” — too many people are happy to live off of others. This doesn’t even take into consideration the mindboggling paperwork and expense of government forms and taxes for hiring someone. I spent more time trying to fill out paperwork for my one part-time employee than she did doing the job.

The irony, the utter irony of it, is that this is the attractiveness of illegal aliens as employees. Since they pay no taxes, they have greater incentives to work. And as an employer, you’re not as worried about lawsuits, you have fewer tax forms to fill out – massively fewer.

So, employers love the illegal alien worker — because it is more freeing and more productive to them individually, but it only works because others are paying all the taxes to keep these people going in a society in which otherwise they could not make it.

The employers want less headache and hassle, and more gumption from employees. Yet we only give freedom to illegal aliens to work without penalty.

Think of The Greatest Generation who lived through the Great Depression and WW-II (the big one). When I think of my dad and my uncles, they did “Whatever it took to get the coon” as Louis L’Amour said. They couldn’t follow their passions as they had to eat and support their families. They did what they had to do without complaint and were proud to be productive citizens relying only on themselves.

I can’t help but think of Tangled:

Thug: (To Rapunzel) Go. Live your dream.
Flyn: I will.
Thug: Your dream stinks. I was talking to her.

My dad started driving truck when he was 13 yrs. old. He ended up dropping out of school when he was 16 because he was making better money than his own father. After shipping out to Nagasaki where they dropped one of the bombs he returned back to his love of truck driving – he was an over the road driver – meaning he was only home a couple of nights during the week (he long hauled Pabst Blue Ribbon beer from Milwaukee to Northern Michigan). And when vacation time rolled around – he got in the car and drove us to various states to see historical sites, took us to Detroit Tiger games, etc. He loved driving and was accident free his entire career.

The problem with today’s yutes – is they have no work ethic. Can’t show up on time, distracted by their social media, can’t follow directions, won’t pay attention to details and can’t communicate. And I might add – most are uneducated even though some have college degrees. Sadly, this is what our education system is spitting out.

People who confuse work and happiness haven’t spent enough time working with their feet four feet lower than a cows feet in January. (ie- a milking parlor in the dead of winter).

Yes Grandma- I do want to grow up to be an engineer.

My passion for doing a job right stems largely in my desire to not do it twice and to get paid more for doing it the first time.

Its a vicious circle because schools generally teach what students want to learn and what teachers want to teach them rather than what the marketplace needs. Its increasingly true that the only jobs higher education will prepare you for are jobs teaching at institutions of higher education.