It seems like a lot of successful people say that there’s no secret to success, that it all boils down to hard work. Entrepreneurs say it, motivational speakers preach it like gospel, and even artists (whether they’re writers, painters, musicians, or sculptors) sing that tune. They say the only ones that make it are the ones that keep at it, that put in more time and effort than everybody else, that work hard at what they do. That’s their grand secret: that there is no secret, and that the key to achieving something is in putting in the hard work. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all bullshit.
I can’t argue that hard work isn’t a key element of all that stuff and that laziness is, but it’s only the byproduct of something more, something deeper. By itself it’s not really worth talking about. It’s not worth focusing on. Most people with success to speak of point out the rewards of hard work and emphasize it’s importance, but just underneath the surface of that disillusioning shout out to “hard work” is a far simpler truth: you won’t put in the kind of work it takes to be great at anything unless you’re filled to the brim with passion for it, burning with a desire to do what you do.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
You can work your ass off all you want, but without that you’ll just be wearing yourself down, forcing yourself to do something you just don’t have the passion for, and slowly hollowing yourself out. Day in and day out, you’ll die inside just a little bit more, making your life empty and meaningless. That’s what most people seem to do, and I honestly don’t know how.
I imagine being more or less in the same place sometimes, a decade or two from now, the same job and the same routines, and all those hellish daydreams end with the same thought. I would kill myself. That’s right, I said it. If my life remained the same as it is now, with no progress or hope of carving a way out of the daily grind, I think I’d eat a bullet. I would die of the monotony, the emptiness, the pointless repetition. The boredom. That would probably never happen given that there always seems to be hope, but surely you see what I’m getting at.
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”
~Vincent van Gogh
I’m no different from millions of other people out there and I’m not about to pretend I’m better than you because I’m still on the same damn hamster wheel as the rest of you… but if I don’t become something more than that I don’t see what the point is. Dreams and desires are the only way to fuel an escape, an escape from being who I am, and from being just like most of the people who will read this post. And come hell or high water, be it through writing or some other avenue, I am going to break out.
The only reassurance I have is the burning need… but that’s enough, because I know what desire can do. In terms of firsthand experience it’s only been on a relatively small-scale, but I’ve seen it there and I’ve observed it in the lives of others. Desire, passion, is how that “hard work” is possible, it’s the only way you can do so much, develop such a high degree of skill, push through so many failures, and practice enough at something to become great at it. With passion, all that effort becomes effortless. You just have to find something that ignites you.
“Find what you love and let it kill you.”
That’s the secret to the kind of hard work people place on a pedestal.
Find what sets your soul on fire and let it burn you to the ground.
(Originally Posted Here on May 19th, 2014)