On parenting for passion

“The best I can say is that as parents, you can engineer the life you want your kids to have, but it may not be the life they want to have. You have to encourage them to pursue their passions. And you have to spend more time on them than you spend on anything else.”
–Ed Zuckerberg, father of Mark, or as he says, he is literally the “Father of Facebook
I like his sentiment…a lot. I just wish he had not said “Pursue their passions.” The problem with passion is that it rarely leads to productivity. Was Zuck passionate about computers? Yes. He learned programing in middle school. He took a graduate level course while still in high school and had private tutoring. But we was also passionate about Greek mythology and fencing. I wish he had said parents need to encourage their kids to pursue their interests passionately. Slight but important difference. You can be interested in something and have no passion.  “It’s often said the key to finding a great career is “following your passion” or “finding your calling.” says the excellent website 80,000 hours. “Follow your passion. But this isn’t very helpful advice. Most people don’t know what their passion is, and even if they do, following your passion could easily end in failure and little social impact.”
A better way, indicated Cal Newport, is find a way to cultivate a unique and valuable skill and then get really good at it. That takes Passion. Both Zuckberg and Gates clearly pursued their interests in Computers passionately. Will Smith and Kevin Costner did it in acting. Anita Roddick (Body Shop), JK Rowling (Writing), Michael Jordan (Basketball), Kurt Hahn and Maria Montesouri (education), and so many others are stellar examples of people who put in the time to cultivate their interests passionately to emerge top of their respective fields.