Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Response To Esther Cepeda Who Said You Should Work Hard Instead Of Doing What You Love

It was printed today in the San Antonio Express-News. Here is the link: False choice to separate work and passion. In the print edition it was titled "Passion not antithesis of hard toil." Here is the link to her article: Esther Cepeda: The rewards of hard work.

"I think Esther J. Cepeda presents a false dichotomy between “following your bliss” and “grinding it out” (“Hard work trumps doing what you love,” Other Views, Jan. 24). She says we need more people who “grind it out” and work hard starting businesses instead of people doing what they love and that “love and passion” are no “substitutes for hard work.”

What if hard work and passion complement each other? This would erase the conflict she sees.

Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor at Florida State University, says “when it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love — because if you don't love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good.” And he advocates hard work — lots of it.

You will “grind it out” if you are doing something you love. Some neuroscience research says that when we do what we love, we form new connections in our brain that increase our skill. At the same time, the release of dopamine that gives us pleasure also helps form these connections.

Cepeda did not mention mythologist Joseph Campbell, who championed “following your bliss” in the 1980s. He wrote the book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” (one of the inspirations for “Star Wars”).

It is not commonly known that Campbell said entrepreneurs, the grinders Cepeda lauds, were the real heroes in our society. Business can be a fulfilling adventure, like art or science.

Maybe our society does not have enough grinders starting new companies because of our negative attitudes toward business. Look at popular portrayals of capitalists such as J.R. Ewing and Gordon Gekko. This may be why young people are not likely to see business as a noble and worthy quest. Our national narrative needs to change.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps has pointed out that we have lost our innovative spark, and certainly the images of capitalists in movies and TV do not help.

Calling entrepreneurs heroes does not mean we should exempt them from ethical behavior. It is not a license to defraud or harm the public. We cannot, however, completely avoid some negative effects of business, such as pollution. But that is something we can tax.

Educator Candace Allen has pointed out that if we do not honor entrepreneurial accomplishment, we will not get enough entrepreneurs.

As President Barack Obama has said, “No government program alone can take the place of a great entrepreneur.” Our national dialogue needs to include the vital role they play. Even those who start, as Cepeda says, boring businesses such as dry cleaner and fast-food franchises.

Those entrepreneurs may be the heroes on the front line of our economy. And who does not love being a hero? That might get people to do the hard work Cepeda wants done."