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Are you a passionate worker...?

...or just a workaholic?


...or just a workaholic?

In a poignant post, Seth Godin explains the difference:

"A workaholic lives on fear. It's fear that drives him to show up all the time. The best defense, apparently, is a good attendance record.

A new class of jobs (and workers) is creating a different sort of worker, though. This is the person who works out of passion and curiosity, not fear.

The passionate worker doesn't show up because she's afraid of getting in trouble, she shows up because it's a hobby that pays. The passionate worker is busy blogging on vacation... because posting that thought and seeing the feedback it generates is actually more fun than sitting on the beach for another hour. The passionate worker tweaks a site design after dinner because, hey, it's a lot more fun than watching TV.

It was hard to imagine someone being passionate about mining coal or scrubbing dishes. But the new face of work, at least for some people, opens up the possibility that work is the thing (much of the time) that you'd most like to do. Designing jobs like that is obviously smart. Finding one is brilliant."

That sounds good and reminds me of the "four-hour work week," as laid out in Tim Ferris' best-selling book: "How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent mini-retirements?" Ferris' book is a manifesto for the mobile lifestyle, and a detailed manual for outsourcing your work and disassembling a cohesive, consistent work life into ultra-flexible and ever-changing roles and tasks. This allows him to live a nomadic and excessive private life in many microverses: "I race motorcycles in Europe," "I ski in the Andes," "I scuba dive in Panama," and "I dance tango in Buenos Aires."

A similar concept is the "slash lifestyle," a term to describe the identity concepts of people who are no longer satisfied with just one professional identity and instead mash up professions and hobbies into a hybrid work/life fulfillment that unleashes their true ever-changing self: "Doctor/author," "Mom/consultant," and "Bellydancer/Scientist" are just some of the possible combinations.

Yet slash-lifestyle and passionate worker attitude have some ramifications. There is a dark side to all the Kumbaya freedom of the new passionate entrepreneurial self. More and more A-list bloggers (i.e. Steve Rubel and David Armano) are admitting a certain blogging fatigue. "Blogging is an addiction," a friend (and avid blogger) told me the other day, "it is a passion that can kill you." So does passion not equal happiness? And how do you draw the line? In a Fast Company cover story, Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" offers some good advice: "Never follow your passion but by all means bring it with you."