You don’t need to say something cool

Not long ago, Morten Kamp Andersen was in a class and the instructor asked them to go around and introduce themselves. They should say their name, where they’re from, and–wait for it:

What they were passionate about.

Oy. Of course at that moment every single person started quietly racking their brains for something appealing, profound, or cool to say.

Morten tells me that he ended up saying something that honestly he’d never said before, and hasn’t said since. But…it sounded good at the time.

And THIS is the problem with the passion question. Because it’s a high stakes, what are you really made of, kind of question. It asks for bullshit, and it gets bullshit in return.

Does that mean you or I or Morten aren’t passionate about things? Of course not! But Morten himself will tell you that for years he worked in finance, then later shifted careers and went back to school for psychology. Now he hosts a podcast called What Monkeys Do, where he can interview experts on what they think about what drives us.

That is all incredibly cool. But he knows what we expect the narrative to be: That he worked in finance, hated it, and then followed his passion for psychology and podcasts.

But that’s not true. “I know I should say I didn’t my work in finance, but I did.” This “I hated this and so I left to do this” may be true for some parts of our lives. But often, that’s not how it works. You don’t have to hate a thing or be driven by a singular passion for another thing to do something different, meaningful, and worthwhile.

Morten was kind enough to have me on his podcast, and we talk about all the ways the discussion around passion creates more consternation than anything else—and what to do instead.

Check out the podcast episode here.