Friday, December 24, 2021


Andre Agassi's autobiography 'Open' was launched in the year 2009 and I distinctly remember it causing quite a stir, being one of the most authentic accounts of his life. One of the things that stayed with me for long was Agassi saying-

"I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion and always have." 

Later in an interview with Vijay Amritraj, he reaffirmed- “I just happened to be good at the sport which I completely hated.”

Wait, what's happening here- A top player, former Tennis world no. 1, 8 grand slam titles, a career slam, an Olympic Gold- someone managed to achieve all this while not particularly loving what they do. What's happening here ?- you might be wondering, as I was as well.

As the author Cal Newport prefers to call it- "Passion Hypothesis"- is about first figuring out what you’re passionate about, and then looking for a job that allows you to use this passion. And Cal questioned this notion in his book- "So Good They Can't Ignore You". He opines that the path to passion is far more complicated than saying "this is what i want to do and here is the path to it." This approach arguably makes people unhappy about their jobs.

Cal's research on this subject revealed that many people who end up doing well in their careers didn't have preexisting passions. Instead, over a period as they became good at what they do, their passion grew.

It turns out why people are passionate about what they do is that they routinely experience these 3 traits-
1. Creativity: Opportunity to improvise your work and implement your ideas
2. Control: Having some say on how, when and where your work gets done
3. Impact: Work has a positive impact on people.

While Agassi's reason for not liking Tennis was due to several factors including him thinking that he was forced into playing Tennis but the fact remains that there are only a very few people who find their true Ikigai (intersection of "What you love", "What world needs", "What are you good at", "What you can be paid for"). For rest of us, passion is something that is a result of exploration and our quest for mastery in our fields.

Ankur Warikoo in his twitter thread beautifully sums up the truths behind finding your passion. I quite loved sketching the summary of these brilliant ideas.

What's your take on the topic of finding your passion ?

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