Following your passion doesn’t always work.

Want to know a secret? Following your passion doesn’t always work.

It’s become a hollow catchphrase to describe how to achieve job satisfaction – “all you have to do is follow your passion!”  You know what though?  I am passionate about a lot of things, but most aren’t suitable to turn into a career.  Even those that are, I might not have been successful in.

So, what comes first – the passion or the job?

For most people I would say the job.  Of course, there are those who have a “calling” as such – to be a doctor and heal the sick, for example – but they are few and far between. When I left high school, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. I studied and worked as a beauty therapist for 18 months but as you might imagine, a male beauty therapist in the 1980′s was rare and business was taking a while to grow.  I love to learn new things and studying has always been a passion of mine as well, so I began studying hairdressing in my spare time between clients.  I settled into my hairdressing career, and plodded along for years, pausing a couple of times along the way to change careers briefly but always returning to hair.  I was OK at what I did, and the business scraped by.

Then I realized something.  One day it just hit me.  I decided that I didn’t just want to be ok anymore. I wanted to master my craft. I wanted to bring value to what I did. Did I suddenly develop a passion for hairdressing? Not exactly, no.  What I did was I found a way to connect hairdressing to my REAL PASSION, excellence. Deep down, being ‘ok’ or ‘good’ is just not enough for me – I have to be a master, I have to excel at what I do.  I wanted to AMAZE my clients with my colour work – I wanted to DAZZLE them with the way I cut their hair – I wanted them to experience fantastic client service every time they visited my salon!  THAT is how my passion for hairdressing grew.

The thing about developing your craftsmanship and seeking to become a master at something, you realize there will always be someone better than you, always something new to learn, so you can never stop your quest to better yourself. In that respect, you become even more passionate about what you’re doing. As I look back over my career, I see I am now a MUCH better hairdresser, I have HUGE passion for my craft, and I am much happier in my career than I was when I first started. 

Passion waxes and wanes. What can start out as an exciting career can end up an awful job.  But having pride in your craftsmanship, possessing the desire to bring value to everything you do – those are things that are always there.

What really gets me when I interview people for a stylist position is they talk about their passion for hair, how they cut their dolls hair as kids, all they have ever wanted to do is be a hairdresser, blah blah blah. They have such ‘passion’, but once employed their lack of desire for craftsmanship and mastery is apparent. That kind of passion is just not enough. You need to have the burning desire to be excellent, that “I want to be so awesome that I cannot be ignored”. It is then that you will find REAL passion for your work and the ultimate in job satisfaction.


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