Why Success Is More Likely If You Love What You Do (Guest Blog by Rory Alexander)

The following blog post is part of the Bennis Blogger Battle. Support Rory by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment and sharing it on your social media! The blog with the most hits, wins.


Chinese Character for Success

I have done a lot of things up to this point in my life and only now am I realizing the importance of this statement. Success is more likely if you love what you do.” I studied economics, then marketing, worked in advertising and moved into print production before packing my bags and moving to China. I taught English for a year and signed on for a second, after which I took all my savings and traveled before returning to South Africa to see what opportunities arose.

I have tried several careers but never loved what I’ve done. It’s been employment and it’s paid the bills but it has left me unfulfilled. It’s not that I haven’t succeeded, but I keep feeling like I can do more. Things are uncertain now as I make the transition from being unemployed to being a freelancer but now I am doing what I love and so this time it’s going to be different. Or at least that’s what I hope.

Sure, you don’t have to love what you do in order to succeed. We probably all know people who don’t enjoy their jobs but drive nice cars and live in fancy houses. So then I guess it’s how you define success. I’d like to think success in life is about being happy. So fast cars and fancy houses might look good and feel comfortable but do they make people happy? I am aware that this could turn into a protracted philosophical argument so let’s consider this hypothetical situation.

If a zoo wants someone to photograph all their animals for a set fee and two people take up the challenge – one who is just after the money and one who loves photography. The one that is just after the money might take a compact digital camera and in the space of an afternoon take a photo of each and every animal in the zoo and hand over a disc to the zoo.

The one who loves photography would probably use a decent camera; take time watching each animal waiting for the best opportunity to take a photo; perhaps arranging to get inside the enclosures of the less dangerous animals and getting some unusual angles. They would probably shoot in the early morning and late afternoons for the best natural light. They may even go the extra mile because they love what they do and produce a printed book of all the photos to hand over to the zoo.

In this example, both people have done what the job required, they both completed the task but who do you think is more of a success? Who would the zoo be more likely to pay? I think it’s obvious that if you love what you do, you will spend more time doing it and the end result will be better than the same thing done by someone who doesn’t love what they do. Imagine what the world would be like if, in our jobs and careers, we all did what we loved.

While loving what you do is no guarantee of success, I believe that at the very least it increases your chances. And to me, the opportunity to following your passion is always a chance worth taking…

After 3.5 years in advertising, Rory Alexander decided to try something completely different and went to teach English in China for 2 years. Now he’s back in South Africa with an open mind looking for opportunities and following his passions which include aviation, photography and blogging. Please support Rory by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting his personal blog: www.roryinsouthafrica.wordpress.com. You can also find him on twitter @Rory_Alexander.

22 thoughts on “Why Success Is More Likely If You Love What You Do (Guest Blog by Rory Alexander)

    1. I assume you’re asking me in relation to my change from advertising to teaching. It was difficult, made even more so by starting my new career in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. After a stressful first couple of months feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing and taking five times longer than I should have to prepare lessons I eventually got the hang of it and came to enjoy teaching, although I never enjoyed the planning.

  1. Absolutely love this post and couldn’t agree more! I think doing something you love extends your life, while just doing a “job” leaves you prematurely aged.

    Several years ago I knew an IBM manager who was making “big bucks” doing what he did well. Presumably, he didn’t love it because – completely out of the blue (at least to those of us around him) – he quit his job at IBM, went back to school, and became a dentist! A dentist? From IBM manager to a dentist. The two things couldn’t be more different! I can only presume that he finally decided to follow his dream and do what he loved. He’s not a prominent dentist here in town. Very cool!

  2. The nugget of your post to me: “I think it’s obvious that if you love what you do, you will spend more time doing it and the end result will be better than the same thing done by someone who doesn’t love what they do. Imagine what the world would be like if, in our jobs and careers, we all did what we loved.”

    The quest to find what you love and do it is harder for some then others. I truly believe if all of us just encouraged one person a day in some way, the world would be a better place. Life is hard…we all need to have someone who believes in us and will tell us so, not just tell someone else about us! Thanks for a great post!!!

    1. I’m glad you liked it and thanks for your comment.
      Absolutely, it is easier said than done but as you say if each of us should encourage others to believe in themselves and support them in following their passions.

  3. I believe it’s so important to love what you do. I can’t imagine going to a job everyday that I didn’t want to go to. A friend of mine quit being an engineer to teach chemistry and physics in a high school. She’s so much happier now, even though she’s making much less money.

    1. So many people seem to get blinded by the bills they need to pay and so work in jobs that they don’t enjoy which is a shame but it’s not always easy to see the other side. Imagine if happiness was the currency of the world…

  4. Rory, after following your blog – which has been great (began reading it shortly before you left China) – I would wonder why not put those stories and great photography into a book. I can see it now, on a table, in a Barnes & Nobles as a best seller. And hopefully that would provide for the bills, more travel and more photography – which we would all love to see in the future. Just wish there was a way to include audio – hearing the children sing – was so beautiful. I’m sure they miss their fun teacher.

    1. Hi Samantha, I’m glad you enjoyed my China blog and I am actually busy editing it to publish as a book. I have finished going through the text (all 89 000 words) and now I just have to go through and add a selection of photos so stay tuned.
      I would definitely love to travel more, write and take photos so we’ll see, perhaps this book will be the catalyst.

  5. I agree one hundred percent Rory! I worked in corporate america for years before leaving unfilled to become a stay-at-home mom, something I never dreamed I’d do. I love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world! Now I am enjoying exploring other possibilities to the future thanks to blogging and doing what I love!

  6. Hi Nicole,
    Well, yes, I am trying my hand a few different projects at the moment. I am really getting into photography and have started up a new blog to profile my best work here: http://roryalexanderphotography.wordpress.com/
    I am also working on some aviation film projects with a friend of mine. Busy working on a DVD at the moment. You can see the trailer for it here: http://www.inthejumpseat.co.za/
    As well as looking to get into online reputation management for smaller companies.
    We’ll see where it all leads…

  7. The comparison with the zoo photographers rings so true for what is currently happening in my life. I left a well-paying job without having a future set out in stone. Now, 6 months later, I have focused more on what I love (photography) and also travelled a bit. but I am also about as broke as never before and am seeing how lack of money and funds can lead to a sad life even though I have the inner passion furiously burning inside me. Some people know from an early stage on what it is that drives them. Some have to learn over the course of time or fall into it. But others never have the courage to discover what they can be really made of it they would just listen to their inner voice. So I consider myself lucky that, even though I am not in an ideal situation right now, I know where I eventually want to be. And perhaps I will get there some day.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Laura! I’m glad you enjoyed Rory’s guest post. You bring up a good point that following our passion can still cause stress in our lives when it comes to finances or the division of our time. It’s a balancing act for sure and one that I’m not sure anyone will ever fully master.

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