Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Passion Bane

I have been on a Cal Newport binge read with first his book about Deep Work. He has an earlier book, “So Good That They Can’t Ignore You” a Steve Miller quote he is clearly fond of. There is a central premise in this book that a generation has been told to follow their passion to a fulfilling job and this is deeply flawed. See the evidence of everyone being very unhappy at work. I feel he skates over the whole issue that salaries have not kept up with expenses and despite a tight job market the attitude of many employers is “5year of job experience and right out of college”.

So I think that his whole premise has some obvious and big holes in it. But that does not mean that his identification that “passion” is a bane on today’s knowledge worker is off the mark. In academia the plague of passion has been around for a while. You’re passionate right? So you’ll do this extra thing. The ever present expectation that academics will work 60+ hours a week. Sacrificie family life etc etc. You come across it constantly.

Now combine this with this study that shows that people who are perceived passionate about their job are given more and more demeaning work. No wonder an academic studied this...

And this brings us to the inherent contradiction in academia: passionate enough to do all that work yet disciplined enough to slip into Deep Work immediately. And so administrations figure they can always add “five more minutes of your time” to the load.

Academics defense: be busy. Or give off a constant aura of over work.

I think I’ll cultivate the attitude of Nobby Nobbs: “duty would not find him would not find him at all...”

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