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Skills and Passion

Cal Newport, who is now known for his research on digital minimalism and approaches to do deep work (as opposed to shallow or busy work), has the following to say on the topic.

“Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.” 

A few years ago, I had never entered the kitchen and couldn't tell one ingredient from other (as I had no idea how they looked!). As a result, even when I traveled or went out to eat, I would default to what I was comfortable eating and rarely tried anything new. So, it would have been a far cry to say that I was passionate about food or cooking.

But then, I started cooking.

And over time, I explored different cuisines and different recipes. This exploration brought about an interest in cooking and in food in general. I could tell good quality vegetables and spices and poor quality ones. I could tell what ingredients must have gone into making the dish that I was eating. I began to enjoy a variety of cuisines and ended up trying what is locally known every place I went.

The passion for food and for cooking followed.

Passion for writing came after I read a lot and made attempts at re-creating the kind of things I enjoyed reading. Passion for fitness came after I had already been spending time researching the best workout routines and their effects on the body in terms of health and longevity, which then extended to exploring different diets.

We can acquire a skill and not the passion for it. This happens often. But, we cannot acquire passion without having the skill first.

If we do, then that is more a passion for the life and lifestyle associated with acquiring that skill and becoming famous rather than passion for doing the thing itself.

Never say no to acquiring a skill. Not unless you want to spend that time acquiring a different skill. Definitely not because you aren't passionate about it. 

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