I was asked this question several times in the last few weeks. It was asked mainly in the context of entrepreneurship, but I’ll answer it in as general a way as I can.
First, for non entrepreneurs
In a nutshell, yes, I think it’s important for a career person to love what he or she does. The last thing you want to do is wake up in your 50’s, 60’s or even 80’s and realise that you waisted your life doing something you hate.
I know I know “It’s not that easy / it’s easier said than done / excuses excuses blah blah blah…” Look, no one said leaving your job and finding one that you truly love and inspires you is easy. Listen my friend, life is not easy. It’s supposed to have it’s challenges and difficulties. So yeah, I know it’s easier said than done – so what?
The first step is for you to DECIDE that you want to do something else. Make the firm decision that you will leave the job you hate, and find a job that you love. Then start looking and applying. It might take you 18 months or more, so what? You’re going to live those 18 months anyway, right? So get off your back side and take action.
Second, for entrepreneurs
This will probably surprise you, but no, it’s not necessary for entrepreneurs to love what they do. It helps, and if you can do it, that’s certainly better. But a few important points, you might love doing something that has no value to society, and therefore you might have a hard time charging for it. For example, you might love lounging around and watching Japanese anime, but I doubt you’ll have many people willing to pay you to do that. Or you might love reading – as I do – but there might not be any (immediate) way of making money out of that.
What is vitally important for the entrepreneur though is this: he needs to love being an entrepreneur! What the business is is almost irrelevant. He needs to love the idea of being independent and in control of his own destiny. That’s what entrepreneurialism is all about. Let me give you an example, I have a friend in the UK who used to be a banker. He hated his job and decided to start his own business.
He really did not know what kind of business to get into, so he did some research, and decided to get into the old people’s care home business! He found it to be very profitable and so he jumped into it. He got financing from a wealthy backer and bought a centre.
He introduced a lot of changes and made it quite profitable. He then bought a second, and a third and I believe he even bought a fourth one. He eventually sold them at a very hefty profit and left with a few million pounds in his bank account. Get my point? He had no emotional attachment to what business his business was in, but he was very passionate about his business.
Let me end this post by the famous inspirational poem by Robert Frost, which I think you’ll enjoy:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
I hope you found this useful.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and talk to you soon.