Scott Adams, the famed creator of the comic strip, “Dilbert”, has some business advice that runs contrary to the popular wisdom: “Forget about passion.” Don’t follow your bliss! He punctuates this idea with, what else, a comic of course.
There are two men wearing animals on their heads and holding a sign that says “TAXIDERMY BEER HATS $3.99”. The caption reads, “Maybe next time we don’t follow our passion.” I guess you had to see it…
People who follow their passion frequently end up doing nothing because they are waiting to be emotionally excited and engaged (one of my personal pet peeves) and even when they try, Mr. Adams contends, they frequently don’t accomplish anything either.
Success, according to Mr. Adams, is a combination of luck (or what we might call Divine intervention) and just plain old hard work. You need a business plan. You need capital. You need loyal and trustworthy employees. You need to put your nose to the grindstone. It doesn’t sound so exciting. But it’s the key to business success.
A young man I know was recently able to retire based on the proceeds from selling his company. “Wow, you really won the lottery,” said an admiring friend. The young man was offended. This windfall hadn’t come out of nowhere; it wasn’t some serendipitous gift. He had put in many long, hard hours of work at great personal sacrifice (not to mention the sacrifice of his wife and kids).
According to Scott Adams, passion doesn’t lead to hard work and success. In fact, the opposite is true. Hard work and success lead to passion. It’s a workplace variation on the seminal Jewish idea, “When you give, then you care.”
If you invest yourself in a company or an idea, if you work hard, if you think about it and strategize and develop the produce or the business, then you will come to care deeply about it. You will be passionate.
This idea works for everything in life. Invest in your marriage, in your spouse, and you will come to care deeply. Yes, your passion will increase.
It’s of course true with our children as well but it’s so instinctive we don’t need to be told; we are constantly experiencing the results.
It works for all of our relationships. We give and we care. We invest and work and hard and we become passionate. We find our “bliss.”
And it’s even true about our relationship with the Almighty. We may not feel passionate (certainly not always). We may not be in the mood to pray or do mitzvot or work on our relationship with God. We may think passion should come first. Then we’ll be excited to pray, follow the commandments, work on our relationship. But, as explained earlier, here too, it’s the other way around. When you give, then you care.
When we pray, when we do mitzvot, when we work on our relationship with our Creator, we are forging and deepening our passion. That’s the proper order of things.
And while Mr. Adams may have earned millions of dollars from his comic strips, it is his understanding of this crucial Jewish idea – that giving leads to caring, that hard work both trumps and leads to passion – that may be his biggest success.