“Do what you love”, is advice I hear exclusively from financially secure people. And it rings hollow to me. When you need money to survive, you do any work that is available, love does not play into that choice. Desperation does.

If you do have a job, “do what you love” becomes another thing more desirable than what you already have, just because you don’t have it. “Do what you love” becomes mirage, illusion for something that is unattainable but which would solve all your problems and make you happy.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”– Frederick Koenig

If you are already doing what you love, great. But for most people divide between what they do today and what they think they would love to do is too wide. How to get there? How to get where?

I am suggesting different angle. Try doing what you already do, but better than anyone else. Try doing it world class and you’ll see that the better you do it, the more you love it. Take your craft to the next level. Pay attention to details and do the work right.

“The truth is that most people have a better chance to be uncommon by effort than by natural gifts. Anyone could give that effort in his or her chosen endeavor, but the typical person doesn’t, choosing to do only enough to get by.” Tony Dungy

Any time we do quality work we are deeply satisfied with it. Whether it is writing code, fixing a car or cooking, when done well it makes us happy. Good, quality work is always unmistakable. It fans out like waves. We instinctively recognize it. We feel better because of it and we like to share that feeling with others. That’s how word of good products, services and people spreads.

As word of your good work spreads the more positive feedback you get, emotional and financial. By doing good work, you just might find out that what you are doing, is what you are supposed to do. And if you don’t, quality work will get you to where you want to be.

“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.”
James Cameron, director of Terminator and Titanic, from The New Yorker

Yet, this is not popular advice. There is no mirage to sell like with “Do what you love” story. There is only hard work.

In the “Outliers: The Story of Success” Malcolm Gladwell puts the “price” on the top performance. It is more than 10,000 hours and 10 years of focused, meaningful practice. Mozart started writing music at six, but he did not compose works now regarded as masterworks until he was twenty-one. Some argue that he actually peaked late since he didn’t compose his greatest work until he had been composing for more than twenty years. At six year of age I doubt that he knew what he loved. Likely he was imitating his father who was composer, teacher and violinist. He tried to do his best and over years of practice and hard work, what he did, became what he loved to do…

There is of course more to it, I am not suggesting that it is that simple. But there is connection between doing quality work, satisfaction and loving what you do. Perhaps we have cause and effect mixed up by everyone parroting “do what you love”.

Perhaps, love grows out of work well done.

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