Success VS Passion (Notes from a talk by Nino Gruettke)


I love how spontaneous life can be sometimes. I’m on a one-year sabbatical, and the one day I decide to pop back into the office, my boss needs me to retrieve some emails for an audit, and I happen to click on an old email in my inbox about a talk, which so happens to be taking place on that very day, in about 10 minutes. The topic? About being happy. Well, why not!

And so it was thanks to that brush of serendipity that I got to sit in as Nino Gruettke of Learn Love Laugh ( stressed the importance of making your passions the source of your happiness instead of striving for success as is measured by others.

Why? Because success is defined by others. It is always a comparison. There is always a standard, a benchmark, a quota. It is a recognition that is given to you by others, and if they can give it to you, they can also just as easily take it away. People start with passion, he said, and probably only 1 out of 10 make it to the media. Suddenly everybody knows about them, people want to know how to become like them. Does it make the other 9 less happy doing what they love?

Unfortunately, happiness today seems to be measured more by success than anything else. Everything has become a comparison. Society has taught us hierarchies even in the brands we use. Somehow, we know to favour an Audi over a Toyota, to “graduate” from Coach to Gucci, to “aim” for an IWC instead of cherishing that good old Casio. I use a brand of toothpaste called Close Up because it costs $2 for a large tube – how many of us only use Darlie or Colgate and not because it tastes great?

The difference between success and passion, he mentioned, is akin to driving your ferrari along Orchard Road on a weekend, versus driving your ferrari on the open road just by yourself – is it a statement, or something that brings you joy because you are a motoring enthusiast who truly appreciates the precision engineering and technical capabilities of the car?

If you think about it, really, what makes us unhappy is when we think we’re failing. When we don’t have the things we think we should have. When we stress ourselves trying to achieve something we think we must achieve. When success is out of reach. Seriously? Why do we do these things to ourselves? Why are we willingly making ourselves unhappy?

I love when he read out Robert F. Kennedy’s quote from his 1968 address: “Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

What happened to doing things we loved for no other reason than because we love them?

Go with passion, he said. Always go with passion.

Read more: 10 Myths About Passion I’d Love to Debunk


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