There’s a lot of talk these days about following your passion in work. The “they” people say don’t be satisfied doing something you don’t like, only work that stirs your heart and soul. Of course we all want to love our jobs and make more money that we can possibly spend, but are those two things mutually exclusive? Can we all be one of those people who had a dream, followed it through thick and thin, didn’t let anything deter them and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams? If reading will make it so, then choose any of the 1,300 business books about “passion” on Amazon.
Mike Rowe, from the TV series “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” has what I believe is a realistic take on following your passion. His series followed everyday people who had jobs most of us would never consider; a man whose company cleans the inside of cement mixer trucks, another who turns uneaten food from Las Vegas casinos and hotels into grub for his pigs, someone who collects roadkill off the highways and byways and, well, you get the idea. Do you think these people are passionate about their work? Does a young child dream of being a chicken sexer when he grows up? Most likely not. Here’s what Rowe says: Like all bad advice, “Follow Your Passion” is routinely dispensed as though its wisdom were both incontrovertible and equally applicable to all. It’s not. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it. And just because you’re determined to improve doesn’t mean you will. Does that mean you shouldn’t pursue a thing you’re passionate about? Of course not. The question is, for how long, and to what end?”
If you’ve ever watched America’s Got Talent, The Voice or American Idol you know there are some truly talented individuals on these shows. But many really suck and no amount of practice or diligence will make them any better. I’d love to have an amazing singing voice, but I don’t. Just ask my neighbor who has to listen to me sing with my ear buds in while I’m working around the yard. A “moose in heat” has been bandied about as a sound similar to my vocal prowess. Sure, I could take vocal lessons, sing anywhere there is an audience and audition my heart out for singing gigs, but chances are I will never be able to make a living at it. And that’s O.K. I love what I do and while it will always be work, I can bring my passion to it and make good money. So perhaps they key to being passionate about your work, even if it’s not your dream job, is to find where your talents can benefit others. Aristotle said it succinctly some 2,500 years ago, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” And that just might be using your God-given talents as a buoy cleaner or a leech trapper.