Pop-ups. These digital mosquitoes are constantly buzzing around, but we have evolved enough to quickly exit these little buggers. Don't worry, this article isn't about those kinds of pop-ups. It's about the kind of pop-ups that occur in our minds.
A simple example - I had a friend once say that when he looked at a digital clock, he seemed to always look when it was 12:34 (1-2-3-4, get it?). After he told me this, for a week straight I seemed to see 12:34 every day and once woke up in the middle of the night at exactly 12:34. Whether I was just looking for it and hoping to see it, or just a random coincidence, my mind was looking for that number. Believe it or not, this phenomenon can be used to help us improve our lives.
For the past couple years, I've been reading, listening, and watching content related to career development. Because it's been on my mind for the last couple of years, I felt motivated to put my thoughts and ideas into this blog. I've found an unexpected benefit to doing so, which I am calling Passion Pop-ups. Just like website pop-ups, these pop-ups come unexpectedly when watching or reading various materials. Often, these Passion Pop-ups come by extracting themes from media that is strictly entertainment. I found a specific case recently when I was watching (again) one of my favorite TV series, The Office.
You see, recently I have this struggle existing in my mind. I've questioned why there are many differing opinions on the advice of "following your passion". One article will paint the picture that finding your passion is one of the most important things we can do in life. The next article says that following your passion is the worst possible advice you could give or follow. Well that's super unhelpful!
If you've read any of my articles before, you can probably guess that I'm on the side of "following your passion". The answer that I got from this mental struggle, was illustrated comparing two of the characters in The Office - Andy Bernard and Dwight Schrute.
Andy Bernard - we know him as the acapella loving, trust fund brat with an anger problem. He has always been unstable and continually seeks for the approval of authority figures. He ebbs and flows through his career at Dunder-Mifflin but is eventually made the manager of the Scranton Branch. Pressures of the job, insecurity, and a going a little insane after a 3-month boat trip, left Andy unsatisfied with his job. Being prompted by the airing of the documentary, Andy is struck with the idea that he could become a famous entertainer. This idea grows to levels that the logical explanations from his coworkers cannot sway him from "following his passion". He quits his job and sets out on his journey, a journey fraught with frustration, struggle, and failure of YouTube Fail Sensation levels.
Having no plan, direction, or idea of how to transform your dream into a reality creates an unnecessarily frustrating situation. It creates unnecessary risk, anger, depression, financial struggles, and opens you up for the beat down life is oh-so-willing to give. Andy's way makes me agree with those who say following your passion is bad advice. It is absolutely the wrong way to follow your passion and to achieve your dreams. It will sap whatever energy you had in searching for your passion. Worst of all, it can cause permanent damage in many aspects of your life. However, there has to be a better way, and Dwight Schrute shows a way that reduces risk, and increases the likelihood of success.
Dwight Schrute does the opposite. He works at his full time job, but uses he free time to follow his passion of working on his 60-acre beet farm. Throughout the series, you see him progress working on his farm, turning it into an agro-tourism hotspot (NOT a bed and breakfast), wanting to break into the garden party market, and eventually inherits his Aunt Shirly's neighboring farm which increases his farm to 1,600 acres. What I love most about this is that he didn't simply quit his job, or toss it aside, in order to follow his passion. It took him a number of seasons in order to make it to a spot where he didn't need his job anymore, but by the end, could have made a seamless transition into a full-time passion.
Dwight allows his passion to grow organically and his consistent effort gives him a number of options. When you and I set out on our journey in this manner, we minimize the risk by doing 3 things: 1) Seeing is our passion is truly a passion or simply something that sounds good at the time, 2) It gives us the opportunity to see if we have the skill or ability for this passion, and 3) it gives us the chance to see if there is a market for what our passion is. Best of all, we find all of this out while still having a stable income stream. It allows us to establish a plan, and similarly transition to a place where options will be available to choose what is best for us. There's no avoiding work. But if we follow Dwight's example, we will be given the choice of doing work that falls more in-line with passion, than the drudgery most of the working world currently accepts.
Passion has a place for all of us in our lives, whether we are able to do it as a career, or simply as an activity that brings energy into our lives. There is a right way and wrong way to find where it fits into our life. I'm grateful to Andy and Dwight for helping me understand the best way to do so.
My name is Brian and I have a voice and something valuable to say. I'm on a quest to discover myself and the world around me. Join me and together we can do good in the world.