Question: “What should I make my career in?“
Answer: “Follow your passion!“
Me: “What Crap!“
The suggestion made by most well-meaning ‘advisors’ is “Do what you love…“
There are abundant books and articles written around this theme. If you are a cook, start a restaurant. If you like watching films, become a film critic, even make films. If you like doing plinkity-plonk on a guitar or a keyboard, start a band. It you are creative, write a novel. If you like hiking, start an adventure sports academy.
Running a restaurant is a difficult business and requires cut-throat (maybe the chef’s knife will come in handy here!) business practices. Ever wondered why no one listens to your witty criticisms about the films, or reads your facebook updates about the film you saw last night? Managing an outbound sports program requires the ability (among other things) to handle a lot of logistical uncertainty including propitiating the weather-gods. Ever wondered about the average lifetime of such businesses? Ever considered that low barriers to entry means too much competition? And, believe me, doing your own thing is harder work (with longer hours) than your current job.
We will probably not be able to do what we love…because:
- If what we love is spending money (consumerism) then it seems crazy to earn money by spending money.
- If we love wasting time, we will not earn money doing that.
- We will also not have too many choices of a job.
- Being an entrepreneur requires a different set of guts (not the belly that most of us have because we love drinking beer).
- If your business is successful, others will follow.
- You may burn your bridges and not be able to return to a position of safety (your previous job).
By now you must be thinking, what has all this to do with the subject of this blog entry?
I will digress a bit into the debate about ‘love’ marriages versus ‘arranged’ marriages. Arranged marriages have been given a bum rap in recent times, but face it, most of the couples of our generation are happier, more accepting, more adjusting, take time to understand each other, share issues and problems, fight and can live with our differences. Most of the couples in my children’s generation are quite the opposite. There are fewer permanent relationships.
Maybe we should just blame it on technology (internet) and the knowledge explosion. Maybe it has to do with more available choices.
But the point is, we fell in love after we got married, and we have remained married. And we are happy. Youthful passion may not endure, but love does.
Another interesting aspect of an arranged marriage is that families have to adjust. There is a lot of emotional investment and that creates a support system. Since our beliefs are based on our past experiences, and our future responses are based on our beliefs, it is highly possible that our backgrounds may determine how we deal with an uncertain future. The support system also gives us the courage to take risks.
Put it another way, the chances of success are higher as there is more background analysis, more emotional investment and a better support system.
So to return to the topic and drawing a parallel between successful marriages (with your spouse or with your career)
- A career should be like an arranged marriage, not a ‘love’ marriage based on youthful exuberance and passion.
- We can love what we do. Fall in love with your job, with what you have been given…like in an arranged marriage. Be more accepting, more adjusting, take time to understand your colleagues and your boss, share issues and problems, fight and live with your differences.
- Do background checks on similar businesses, talking to people in the industry you want to be, researching the culture of the firm you plan to join makes the chances of loving your job better.
I am sure I am raising the hackles of a lot of persons right now. I would welcome your comments.