Posted by: annemartinfletcher | January 18, 2012

To Find Happiness, Forget About Passion – Oliver Segovia – Harvard Business Review

I think Segovia nailed our world with his recent article, so I want to share it with all of you–especially us “zoomies.”

Luckily, I found “success” by pursuing my passions: flying, skiing, and writing. However, while I began my career in difficult financial times (the stagflation of the 1970’s), my husband and I rode the investment boom of the 1980’s, permitting us to weather the current financial recession despite loosing our well-paying jobs and “settling” for low-paying jobs we love. The “jobless generation” has fewer choices, and pursuing their passion may not be a choice.

Segovia suggests that you concentrate less on passion and more on pursuing solutions to problems. These days, solutions to problems are interdisciplinary. He also encourages you to travel–not as a tourist but as an adventurer and worker (just don’t go backpacking in Iran, okay?). Finally, don’t look for your own happiness; find it by helping others. As Eric Greitens, former Navy Seal, says in his book The Heart and the Fist and in an interview I linked to in June, “It’s not about me.”

In my life, my most creative moments have been when I sought the solution to a bigger problem or when I just tried to define the problem better. My degrees are interdisciplinary. Thinking outside of the box often means just trying a different toolset to help someone’s problem go away.

The Air Force gave me wonderful opportunities to travel–including being lost in Riyadh during Ramadan with ten men expecting me to find our way back; trying to exchange dollars for the local currency in La Paz without being arrested; and providing aviation charts (unauthorized donation of government property) to mapless tower personnel in Kinshasa after they assured me during the arrival vector that they were not routing me over a hostile neighboring country.

Even now, as a ski instructor and (ironically) as a memoirist, I strive to remember that it’s not about me. My best memories occur when I am successful at that. I wish you all the opportunity and courage to help someone else.

To Find Happiness, Forget About Passion – Oliver Segovia – Harvard Business Review.


  1. i loved this article and the referenced one from Oliver segovia. I couldn’t leave him a comment, but this is so relevant in the world we live in. There is a certain almost indignant expectation to be doing a job that we absolutely love, else its not worth it. What is forgotten is many times, even things you love doing can be frustrating and more importantly you could enjoy things you may not start off believing you like. There are joys to solving real problems using your strengths and experience, and this was so beautifully articulated here.

  2. Dear Mita,
    Thank you for commenting here and drawing my attention back to “small truths” I wrote several years ago. I am currently retraining as a jet pilot. Sure, this is a passion of mine, but as you point out, at the moment it is terribly frustrating. If I would remember what Segovia and Greitens wrote, that it is NOT about me, I think my current frustrations would be easier. I need to rely on my strengths and exerience. Blessings to you.

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