TED's 31 days of Ideas - Day 29: Why you will fail to have a great career

Why you will fail to have a great career

By Jia Jiang

Have you ever watched a talk so relatable that you started asking: "How did this guy know my story? Did he steal my journal? Can he read my mind?"

Larry Smith's TED Talk, "Why you will fail to have a great career," made me want to get a tinfoil hat. Dr. Smith, a Canadian economist, discusses one of the oldest pieces of advice ever given: follow your passion. He points out that while everyone knows the advice, very few actually follow it. And the most commonly used excuse for not following someone's passion is the desire to have great human relationships over a great career.

At an early age, I already knew my passion was being an entrepreneur. Yet throughout my 20's, I couldn't bring myself to take the plunge. I was afraid of failure and of being rejected by my family, who wanted me to work at a big company with a steady salary. After marriage, my excuse morphed from wanting to be a good son into wanting to be a good husband. And soon it morphed into wanting to be a good father.

I had a choice to make. I could either make my unborn son the excuse for not following my passion or the catalyst for me to pursue it. I could one day tell my son: "You should chase your dream because I never did." Or I could say: "You should pursue your dream just like I did." With my wife's support, I chose the latter. At age 30, and four days before my son was born, I quit my job and started my own company.

Ever since that day, life has been different. I built a company, published a bestselling book and gave my own TED Talk about what I learned from 100 days of rejection.

There are still many ups and downs, triumphs and struggles. One thing is for sure, though: I have lived life to its fullest. None of this would have happened had I not followed Dr. Smith's advice: don't use your relationships as an excuse for not pursuing your passion.