Do What You Love

Do What You Love_HWhen we do what we love …

We play to our strengths and inspire others to do the same
We find a trustworthy compass that will guide us in life’s 
important choices
We will not be free from problems, but we will experience 

There is a price to pay for not doing what we love. When we work just to survive …

Work is just a four-letter word
We find that work is something that we want when we do not 
have it, and something we do not want when we do
We are getting paid to do something we would not do 

To be great at something, you have to love what you do. And to love what you do, you have to do what you love.

To be great at something, you have to love what you do

The trouble is we often settle for less.

“When you make a ton of money, you want more of it. You start to forget what the drivers of happiness are and what things are really important,” said Patrick Chun, a graduate of Harvard Business School.1

In a study of college graduates, psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan discovered that people who pursue wealth or fame end up more anxious and depressed a few years later – even though they were hitting their financial targets. The reason? The pursuit of extrinsic goals were hurting their relationships. “They’re busy making money and attending to themselves and that means that there’s less room in their lives for love … and the things that truly count,” Ryan concluded.2

If you are reading this book, chances are you’re a go-getter. You grew up acing your exams in school. You wanted to be a chef but everyone told you to get into a good university first. In university, you loved baking muffins for your hall-mates, but everyone persuaded you to widen your options with a double degree in law and actuarial science. And then, boom, suddenly, you are a fast-rising star, hanging on to your boss’ coat tails as you rocket up the organisational chart. Up and up and up.

One morning, all of a sudden, you realise that your kitchen is gleaming with German knives, Italian marble countertop and English cutlery … but the only appliance you use is a Japanese microwave oven for heating up instant noodles … which you wolf down as you dash off to meet your client. “What happened to my dreams of being a chef?” you ask yourself. You chuckle. Retirement’s just a decade away. Then you will have all the time in this world to do what you really love.

We all think this way sometimes. But it’s dumb. “Not doing what you love is like saving up sex for your old age,” warns investment guru Warren Buffett.

The most reliable compass is choosing to do what you love.

On the journey of life, it is easy to lose our way or fall into a deep rut. To get out of the rut of mediocrity, we need a compass. The most reliable compass is choosing to do what you love. When you get lost in life’s confusing choices, this compass brings you back to what truly matters. Barefoot Leaders know the value of this compass. This compass ensures that …

  • When you go that extra mile that leads you into uncharted territory, you had better be doing what you love. Without such love to fire you up, it is virtually impossible to go barefoot and keep on running without giving up.
  • Doing what you love grows over time along with your skills. It takes years, maybe even decades, to reach that “Aha!” moment when you realise you are doing what you love. But here’s the thing: When you finally know, you must go for it. Follow your heart. Take a deep breath. And take that leap of faith.
  • Ultimately it is no sacrifice to abandon a stable job, downgrade to a less glamorous position, or work for free. You get much more in return. Katharine Graham, the first female CEO of the Washington Post Company, once said, “To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?3


1Clayton M. Christensen, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Harvard Business Review, (accessed September 3, 2011).

2Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009), p. 143.

3JoneJohnsonLewis,“KatharineGrahamQuotes,”About.comWomen’sHistory,http://womenshistory. (accessed September 1, 2011).

This article is an excerpt from Barefoot Leadership: The Art and Heart of Going That Extra Mile by Alvin Ung.