I often talk about matching one’s career to one’s passion, purpose, personality, and calling. Parents who can help their children find this match put their children in a fantastic position to win later in life. Sounds good, right? After all, the old saying goes is do something that you enjoy and the money will follow. But many folks think this isn’t really practical. I wanted to tell you three stories about shaping your own career, working in your passion and the outcomes that followed.
Leslie Samuel combined his love of the physical sciences, most notably biology, with a knack for writing and creating content. He first discovered that he could make money through completing promotional offers online. Samuel then developed the site named interactive-biology.com and began to create targeted videos that students could use as study guides and tutorials. Through this process of being helpful and doing something he was passionate about, he landed a professorial position teaching basic sciences to undergraduate students. His online work gave him a leg up on his competition, even though he didn’t have a PhD. He also runs the site becomeablogger.com where he shares his story about his blogging successes. You can click to hear his interview with Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income.
Lenny Achan is currently head of communications at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. He is just 35 years old, and he has exactly the job that he wants. His story appears in the Harvard Business Review article “A Campaign Strategy For Your Career” written by Dorie Clark. You can hear about this young man on this episode of the HBR IdeaCast. In short, Achan ascended the ranks so quickly because he “pre-wrote” his resume. He identified the position he wanted ten years before and determined what his resume needed to look like in order to get that position. Then, he took action and set out to do the things that were on his phantom resume. He created the path to his dream job through a pre-determined path.
I recently took a leadership development course where the instructor talked about this very topic. I don’t have permission to publish the names, but I will share the story. My instructor’s brother was an engineer by training. He took that path because when he was younger, someone told him that he should be an engineer because he’s good at math. How many of us defaulted to a career because of a similar statement? Nevertheless, he did as he was told and spent forty years in a career where he was disengaged. He did what was expected of him but was never outstanding – he lacked passion because the work didn’t fit his personality. I would suspect that the majority of folks place a premium on competence, or what you are capable of doing, over passion, personality, and purpose. Upon his retirement, the former engineer took to volunteer work in a nursing home where he regularly hangs out with the old men and takes them into his care. It’s like an old boy’s club and he’s having the time of his life. My instructor said that his brother never talked about his engineering job, but he talks about this volunteer work like a kid in a candy store. He can’t get enough of it.
So I hope you see from these stories the power that can be unleashed when someone identifies and pursues their passion. It doesn’t always work out, and sometimes you have to do something to pay the bills while that one thing gets underway. How can you do this for your kids? Are you taking notes of their passions, purpose, and personality traits? Could you help guide them into something that they will love doing instead of something they will dread? Are you using language that encourages rather than discourages? After all, once they grow up they’ll spend as many waking hours at work as they do anywhere else during the week. Let’s do what we can to help them find a career that engages who they were designed to be.