The cliche is that if you do what you love, you will never "work" a day in your life. This seems unlikely to me, as jobs have this tendency to include irritating tasks as well as rewarding ones.
Still, there is certainly something to it. I had a math/science friend from high school who majored in geology because he loved it. I believe it was paleogeology he mentioned as his specialty at Rennsalaer. He was also fascinated by computers, and as our school was on the DTSS* system got a lot more time working with them then most highschoolers did. He continued this is college, getting a minor in computer science - I am not sure many schools had it as a major, then; it was part of the math department - and expressed to me over Christmas break 1972, our sophomore year, that he worried whether he would be able to find work in his specialties at graduation, because a lot of the good jobs seemed to be tied up for decades. He was considering pushing on to graduate school, even though his family couldn't afford it, really, so that an academic or research might open up.
Paleogeology is one of the foundation specialties of looking for petroleum, and that computer thing, as you know, really did take off. In the recession of 1975, when I was glad to find a job as a part-time hotel clerk, oil companies were throwing money at him to do something quite close to what he loved. He never went on to get his PhD, and according to my online research, he is quite happy with that decision.
I have written about both natural intelligence and personal energy this fall, raising questions of what factors go into worldly success. Both have something to do with the drive to learn. But I think there is something different about the desire to learn about "things," which I have in abundance, and a desire to learn about some particular subject. I now think the latter is a greater contributor to doing something important in the world. It can come from either personal energy or natural intelligence, but it is what makes the world go forward. One can call folks like me polymaths, or Renaissance men, but the term dilettante might apply just as well. We are deeply related to the more focused students, and we have our place in the overall system as well. But ultimately, we are gap-fillers and they are builders.
I think I will expand on this soon. Here is a fascinating story about Dennis Ritchie (Lucent) and Robert Morris (Dartmouth, NSA, cryptology) that illustrates the drive of love of subject. At the time, they would have seemed like corporate tools, not cool at all, to me. Computer geeks were button-down types who I backpedaled away from. Yet in a few short years, they looked like this. The computer folks learned that the folks who really knew what they were doing weren't the 3-piece suit guys, but strange-looking people who had chosen this field because of fascination.