Home » Author: Kirsten J. Fisher » Why You Might Fail. And, Phooey to the Inspirational Speaker!

Why You Might Fail. And, Phooey to the Inspirational Speaker!


Did you follow your dream to a great and fulfilling career? Did you explore today? No? Are you then leading a dull life with a “high workload, high stress, blood sucking, soul destroying kind of job”? Can life outside of work compensate? Did you really dig this hole yourself?

Today, let us diverge from our recent focus on international law and global affairs. Let’s talk about something closer to home. I want to talk about your life. And my life. I want to talk about careers and passion and how we ought to be spending the majority of our time.

In recent days, I came across two videos of inspirational speakers who attempted to arouse motivation, spark action directed by passion, and who generally claimed that if you put the energy into following your dreams you will have a great life.

Neither said it would be easy. In fact, both claimed doing so would force you out of your comfort zone. It would require genuine effort. Both pointed to the excuses you already tell yourself just to validate your lack of pursuit of these dreams. And neither seemed completely convinced that after their speech much would change in the lives of their audience members.

One was economist Larry Smith speaking to a mostly academic audience about why most people – and you included – fail (and will fail) to have great careers.  Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

It is because you don’t pursue your passion!

The other, Mel Robbins, an author and career and life coach, talked about seizing the day to make life fantastic rather than just fine. F— YOU – How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over

Ms Robbins says fine is not good enough.

One seems more on the ball than the other. And it’s not because just the one (Mel Robbins) seemingly demands only small changes and the effort to wake up 30 minutes earlier, and explore and grow a bit. In fact, hers like Smith’s is also a call to recognize what is most important to you and make it happen. It is because, sadly, following one’s passion to have a great career – that can also sustain life and provide basic standards – is greatly dependant on the temporal and geographical features of one’s particular life.

Pursuing your passions has become one of the biggest clichés of the universe and yet we ignore it and make excuses, Smith contends.  But, I want to argue that some of these excuses really do represent reality – for many people.

In a surprisingly related comedic post entitled “6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying” on Cracked.com, #5 and #4 highlight the fallacy of the ‘everyone can do it’ argument: “It implies a bizarre alternate reality where society rewards you purely based on how much effort you exert, rather than according to how well your specific talents fit in with the needs of the marketplace in the particular era and part of the world in which you were born.”

I think I’m physiologically programmed to pursue my passion. But, I also realize I’m lucky. I will not become independently wealthy in my pursuit, but I’ll be economically stable, happy, entertained and fulfilled. Not everyone can say that. Pursuing one’s passion is not always only a question of agency. Sometimes life’s structure gets in the way.

That being said — don’t you at least owe it to yourself (and to those who simply cannot pursue theirs) to figure out what your passion is and challenge yourself to find a way to make it the centre of your working life??

Minimally – at least discover your passions, and pursue your greatest cravings in your after-hours. I’ll agree with Mel Robbins: a fine life is not good enough!



  1. Having struggled with bipolar disorder and family dysfunction, I’ve learned that following my passion is my ownly option–if I want to be happy, that is. Geat post, Kirsten!

    By the way, what did you think of the Kony 2012 guy/co-founder of Invisible Children(forget his name) being arrested and then hospitalized for running around San Diego naked and ranting?


    • Thank you as always, Kathy.
      I found the news of Invisible Children’s Jason Russell’s detention and problems to be sad. It seems, if you are to believe the reports, that the stress was too much for him. I’m sure the response garnered by his Kony 2012 video was not what he expected or hoped for.

  2. Laszlo Sarkany says:

    Excellent topic Kirsten! I too like to ponder on the notion of agency vs. structure in developing one’s passion(s) and successes. I do however think that both – and I apologize for reinforcing the simple dichotomy – are underpinned by a sense of determinism: a sort of ‘I will achieve something if I put my best effort into it, or if I am in the ‘right place at the right time’. How about chance and the unknown?

    And, just as a side note, I have had the pleasure of having Larry Smith as my economics professor at the University of Waterloo. He is absolutely inspirational!

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