“Run through the man!” That’s my football coach yelling at a 50 pounds lighter, eight steps quicker version of myself years ago. My coach wanted me to hit an imaginary mark beyond my target. Aiming beyond the target made the impact that much greater and my success that much more likely.
I’m cynical when a mentor or career coach says, “Find your passion!” or asks, “If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?” It feels like an imaginary mark they want me to hit. I mean really, wouldn’t a passion, by definition, be overwhelmingly conspicuous? Trust me, I’m trying to find it! To be fair, I have a couple passions. Blueberry crisp is one. Becoming a professional athlete is another. A lot of good passions do me. And I’m quite certain I can’t eat without money. If money isn’t an issue, food is!
Granted, some people know they want to cure Ebola from the minute they’re born, and they know exactly how to go after that passion. And granted, others are comfortable waiting tables while they pursue a career they chose when money and likelihood of sufficient compensation wasn’t an issue.
Then I remember my football coach kindly advising me to run through the man, aim past the target for better success.
Perhaps the answers to these career questions are similarly beyond my realistic reach. Yet I have seen notable success as people strive beyond the mark. I have seen individuals find satisfaction and fulfillment in their lives, balance and purpose, direction and meaning as they set their sights to what is sometimes an imaginary mark. I have seen them triumphantly break out of the 70% club, the 70% of Americans who are indifferent or outright detest their jobs.*
In effect, striving for a passion or for employment where money isn’t the deciding factor is a risk, it makes things interesting, it gives a person something to fight for, something to strive for, something that is meaningful, greater than themselves. It creates a memorable life, a purposeful and designed life, a life lived with intent. It puts them in the arena of great enthusiasm described by
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
If you’re an average American, you have 8,906 days left to work.**
Seventy percent of us will spend these days in agony, detesting our jobs or at best getting by, making a paycheck, leaving little to remember once those days are up. Odds are that’s you. Eight thousand nine hundred and six days is a lot of days to subsist, to get by.
Asking, “What’s my passion?” or “If money wasn’t an issue, what would I do?” starts you on a liberating journey that gives these remaining days a chance to be meaningful, a chance to make a paycheck and make a difference, to make a life, not just a living, and to know at best the triumph of high achievement.
How do you find answers to questions that are imaginary or impractical? And if you do answer these questions, so what? How do you go after a passion or ignore money and still keep up, still survive? These are the topics of upcoming guest blogs. I welcome your comments!
*2013 State of the American Workplace, Gallup.
**Median age in America is 37.6 years, CIA Factbook. Average retirement is 62 years, Gallup. The difference multiplied by 365 days is the 8,906 days.