You may be asking if these are not the same thing expressed different ways, but I make the following distinctions:
Loving what you do is about the field you are in, the detail of the day-to-day, or your chosen industry sector. For example; nurses, fire fighters, teachers, research scientists, professional athletes and so on, all love what they do. They love it whether or not they are the best at it, and would keep doing it even if it meant they will never be highly successful in material terms.
To love doing what you’re good at means that it does not matter the field you are in, it is not a passion in and of itself. It means that you are doing something at which you excel, thoroughly enjoy, and would keep doing regardless of the industry sector in which you currently find yourself.
It has taken me 46 years to realise that I have not missed out on anything by not having a passion related to any topic. I always envied people who knew from the age of 6 they wanted to be a dentist, or a soldier, or what not. To me, NOT having a passion meant I was destined to only ever be average at something, because I assumed that without passion, I would never have the energy or interest to be the best.
I don’t even have a hobby.
Recently however, I came to the realisation that there are at least two forms of passion; passion-in-the-thing, and passion-in-the-process. Passion-in-the-thing relates directly to loving what you do (e.g. nurse), and passion-in-the-process relates to loving to do what you’re good at (e.g. fix broken things). One is not better than the other, but while passion-in-the-thing usually becomes obvious at a very early age, passion-in-the-process can go a lifetime without being realised.
If you let it.
I am 100% in the passion-in-the-process camp, which will become obvious when I make the following statement; I actually don’t care about information security.
What?! (you gasp) You write a blog that positively DRIPS with passion (or angst, depending on your point of view), how can you say you don’t care?!
Because it’s not information security I care about, it’s the PROCESS of simplifying a difficult concept until it’s available and understood by those who need it that gets me going. Simplifying is a passion, and helping people and organisations get the BENEFIT of security is a passion, security itself is not. I could just as well be in advertising (for example) and love my job, but I’m neither creative enough, nor do I have the patience / inclination to start my career all over again.
Why this is so exciting to me, and why I bothered to write this blog in the first place, is that ANYONE can do what they’re good at! In my experience, only a few people ever find a true passion for something specific, and fewer still make a career out of it, but if you can take the WHAT out of the equation, and replace it with HOW, this becomes available to everyone. I think I’m right in saying that, almost by definition, there is no scale in passion, you have it or you don’t (like Billy Connolly’s “F&%$ off, he hinted!“). This makes both forms of career passion equal.
Actually, I should say that everyone who makes the effort to understand themselves can do this, but so few do. I touched upon this in one of my earlier blogs; Never Follow the Money, but I missed the point when I suggested that more introspection is required to find the things you’re good at, and to focus on those. Yes, you should absolutely do that, but unless you accept passion-in-the-process as an equal alternative to passion-in-the-thing, you will probably still be discontent with your choices. Perhaps assuming that your life will really only start when you find someTHING you love.
It does not have to be a thing.
Finally, the best part about all of this is that it’s NEVER too late in your career for you to discover either of these passions, but only passion-in-the-process is something you can work towards right now, today, you just have to stop using a lack of passion-in-the-thing as an excuse not to get what you want, whatever that may be.
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