The Myth of “Do What You Love”

“Do what you love” is self-indulgent advice offered retrospectively by successful people. Yet, it is inverted in its logic.

One of the most famous renditions of the argument is Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005:

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”   

He starts by urging young graduates to find their calling, “to find what you love” but he concludes that the only way to do it is “to love what you do”. Doing what you love is not the same as loving what you do. It is the reverse of it. 

The world would be short of almost every great human endeavor if the doers had first set out to explore “what they love”. Even the crazy ones. The greatness of human endeavor rests on men and women doing what they can. In fact, whenever I’ve accomplished the best work of my life, I’ve not had the time to even think whether I love what I do.

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