I’ve been doing a lot of research on career planning as I craft the materials for ACanofCoke.com, my program to provide college- and career-readiness guidance to high school and college students who need additional support. I came across Mike Rowe’s video entitled “Don’t follow your passion. Do this instead.” I don’t agree with his entire outlook though I think his point has value. I think passion is an important part of building a life and career that brings us happiness and fulfillment. But passion isn’t enough; it’s only one part of a more complex equation:
Passion + ability + opportunity = a career (and life) worth having
Identify what you love to do. Evaluate whether or not that’s where your talent lies, or where it could lie with practice and a strong work ethic. Determine the size of the opportunity that could utilize your passion and talent, or develop a plan that creates that opportunity if it doesn’t exist.
Building each piece of the left side of that equation isn’t easy, though it’s the only way to turn that right side from a dream into a reality.
About a dozen years ago, I interviewed for a job that was boring but paid well. I interviewed and really thought I made a great impression. Then the hiring manager told me, right in the interview, that she wasn’t going to hire me. I was devastated, until she explained why she wasn’t going to hire me. She said, “Christa, you’re a bright, shiny candle. Taking this job would be like taking a candle and putting it under the table. And that’s not where candles belong. Go somewhere where your light is needed and appreciated. Go do something really good with your life.” I’ve never forgotten that advice, and every day I try to live up to it. Sometimes I fail, but the daily pursuit to do something good with my life has always been worth it. I tried to find that hiring manager’s contact information so I could thank her, but it’s been lost in the shuffle over all these years since my interview. So this post is my attempt to thank her, and to encourage us all to find the place where our light is needed and appreciated in the coming year. Go where you can glow.
You can’t be afraid to walk away from something that’s not right for you. A city. A job. A relationship. A financial deal. A conversation. A situation. As Brian has often said to me, “if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”
I’m not saying to run at the first hint of trouble; I’m just saying that our energy and time are too precious to be wasted, especially by someone else. If someone isn’t treasuring your talents and gifts, then see to it that your talents and gifts be applied elsewhere. Don’t succumb to the idea that there’s nothing better out there or that in some way you aren’t worthy, ready, or capable of something better. You are. Right now.
The people who need you are out there. Find them.