An Inapplicable Quote from Confucius

A famous and inspiring advice that you often hear from career counselors, especially when you are finding your niche in the society (like in selecting a college course or looking for a job), is that you should choose the kind of work that you love or you are passionate about. Of course, who the heck wants to be put in a field of work where your heart does not beat its fullest? No philosopher has put such concept into better words none other than Confucius, and I quote…

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Recently, however, there are some findings that state Confucius did not actually say or write it. Yet, for the sake of the discussion at hand, it is best to leave that debate on a separate venue.

Statue of Confucius

Whether it is Confucius, Steve Jobs, or some other inspiring men or women who said it, it does not really matter. Majority of people who heard or read it, not only find the quote motivating, but they also accept it as truth carved in stone.

It is indeed inspiring, it is certainly motivating, and you cannot deny it is soothing to hear and believe such quote. There is no question about it – if you want to be happy, then work on something you love and passionate about lest you endure misery dragging yourself daily. The thing is, reality says something contrary and you need to bear the hard facts that go with it. After experiencing a lot of ups and downs in your life, you realize that this Confucius quote has become inapplicable more often than not.

1. Money takes precedence

Previously, I wrote an article about What Prevents You from Fulfilling Your Passion, and I mentioned money as top of the list. The need to pay the bills and feed some hungry mouths in your household becomes your lifelong mission. It has become the most important reason of why you earn a living.

Some will say that, if your job is something that is very much related to your passion, the wealth will come in automatically. Yes, maybe it is true, but it will come not in an instant but gradually. It will need some amount of perseverance and patience. The thing is, you do not want the loan sharks grabbing your house and properties leaving you and your loved ones homeless and hungry while waiting for the wealth to come from your passionate kind of work.

2. Competition is tight

One of the main reasons why you cannot land in a career you truly love is because there are ridiculously too many people eyeing the same post. Even if you have the necessary competence and skill set, if you are last on the line, your chances of getting that dream job can become nil. Once you feel this situation is taking very long and you notice that your pockets are nearly empty, you will start to think that maybe it is time to move forward and apply for an easy-to-land job. Before you know it, you are staying long in that field of work (you do not love), something that deviates from what you have planned in the first place. Your professional experience is established and it will be difficult to do a career change.

I believe this is the case for many employees in the sales community. Let us hear them speak in the comments section.

3. Demand is non-existent

You have finally found the kind of work that you can love and be passionate about, and look, there are not a lot of people competing for that job post either. The reason why there is no competition – the demand for such work is less than expected or simply does not exist.

I know a man who is so good at fixing broken gas stoves. He is so passionate about it that he claims he can make a rusting stove into a sparkling new and functioning piece of a kitchen gem. I myself would love to see him succeed and get rich with his gas stove mending prowess. The problem is, he does not have a solid market for this business. If a household gets its stove broken, the owner himself will just fix it up. If the stove needs more than a simple repair, then he would just decide to buy a brand new one.

You see, even if you are an expert on a certain field and your passion resides in it, it is still no guarantee that there is a market for it – no assurance that there are people who are willing to be your customers.

The best advice I can give the gas stove expert guy is to apply in a factory that manufactures stoves and like products.

4. Road is narrow

Competition is one thing, market demand is another. Succeeding in your chosen passion can be a matter of supply and demand, as what was explained in the 2 previous lists. How about level of competence, can this be an issue? Oh yes, it is an issue you have to accept and deal with.

I know not a few people in the neighborhood who want to be in the ranks of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Jesse J. and the likes. Some of them may even want to supersede Jennifer Lawrence in fame and stardom. Yet, these good friends of mine have not passed the initial auditions in the local singing and acting workshop.

Most of the time, the reason why it is not realistic to choose the job you want is because you do not have the talent that comes with it. No discouragement intended, but I guess only fate and your own determination can contradict that statement.

5. Excuse for laziness

If you have no desire to earn your living and contribute some good to the society, this famous Confucius' quote on work and career is the best excuse. “I have not found my passion yet, that is why I choose not to look for a job. I just do not want to become miserable doing something I do not love, you know.” If this is your outlook in life, you have become a slave to the fleeting pleasure of sloth.

Sometimes, it is best not to give the Confucius quote as an advice particularly if you are dealing with a person who has decided to follow the path of Belphegor. It is surely inapplicable if you are a hippie; I do not think Confucius can motivate you.

If you are really passionate about something, you will get up from your couch and look for ways to develop yourself in doing what you really love. The best quote that can be applied to you is what the Apostle Peter said to the lame guy who sat at the temple area all day…

Sts. Peter and John at the Temple Area


I admire people who have found passion in their work and I find inspiration on those who succeeded in life and continue to achieve success by doing what they love to do. However, let us not put judgment on the person who lovingly bears the weight of daily toil just to feed the feeble mouths who depend on him/her.

As a final tip, I want to leave you with another quote from Confucius.

Isn't it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?

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  1. Indeed, let us not disparage the person who works a job they loathe just to keep the cupboards stocked and the rent paid. Let us instead disparage a system that keeps us working 40+ hours every week so that the leaches at the top can hoard all the wealth.


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