On the first anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, people have taken to thinking about whether he actually followed his own advice about chasing your passion for professional fulfillment. Led by a widely circulated excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, Newport advocates that Jobs became a massive success not by following his passion, but instead, by building a fluid career around several “schemes” until one finally paid off. In today’s rather dynamic workplace where professionals are encouraged to diversify revenue streams and transform their skillset as rapidly as technology evolves, perhaps this does make sense. Here’s Newport’s take:
If a young Steve Jobs had taken his own advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today as one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers. But he didn’t follow this simple advice. Apple Computer was decidedly not born out of passion, but instead was the result of a lucky break–a “small-time” scheme that unexpectedly took off.