By Rangsan Thammaneewong
In the movie “Shall We Dance?” starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, a character in the movie, acted as an apprentice to a detective hired to track the leading character in the movie played by Richard Gere by his wife for fear of him having an affair due to his strange behavior, quoted David H. Thoreau, a French philosopher as having said “Most men live their lives in quiet desperation”.
Most of us in our childhood were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Over the years, we may have weeded out the fanciful answers like “I want to be superman or Rambo” or “I want to rule the world,” to something more manageable like an airline pilot or a senator. But pressure from all directions has not enabled us to live the lives we want or worse do not know what we want to do in our lives. Thus, it might make more sense if we could to plan out the career path and choose how we want to live our life so that we would not be estranged from what we want to do, our passion, what we are good at (DNA), and what would be a profession that pays our bills. So as we journey together here, we will see how you can free your soul by answering the questions of your Passion, DNA, and that very important question, how to make sure you can pay your bills!
Two obvious factors: Passion and ability (DNA). In our ideal world, we would be extremely happy to get a job that we are so passionate in doing and we were born with embedded DNA to do the job. This could be equivalent to being another version of Einstein for his heavenly intelligence and his passion for knowledge, Mozart for his musical intelligence and love for music, and Tiger Woods for his physical ability and his DNA to be a great golfer.
In that case, we could look at employment less as a job, and more as a hobby that also help you pay your bills. Many of you would argue that few people are lucky enough to have such a dream job. While it may seem like some have glamorous jobs others would kill for, such as professional athletes and models, they actually had to work very hard to get to where they are. It would be tough to do a lot of hard work if you are not passionate about it, or have the ability to do it well.
Passion: There must be something that excites you enough to spend the better part of your life doing it without much concern for the compensation, not worrying too much about getting paid for doing it. Imagine what would have happened to Picasso if every time he touched a brush his main concern was how much he would be compensated for the piece. Do you think he would still be this legendary?
DNA: The other concern is your ability, i.e. both the gifts you were born with and the skills that you have acquired. What are you good at? What do you think you could be good at with the right opportunity and training? Some people were born with certain gifts. Professional athletes, for example, are born with genetic abilities that cannot be matched by the majority of the population, no matter how hard you try or how much practice time you put in. You may improve a certain skill with practice and hard work, but you will at some point be limited by your genetic abilities. You can be so passionate about basketball but if you do not have the required DNA for it, for example if your height is less than 5 feet 10 inches, it would be difficult to excel as a top professional basketball player in the NBA. This doesn’t only apply to physical abilities. Recent studies have shown that there were multiple intelligences, not only limited to IQ (intelligent quotient). There are physical intelligence like Tiger Woods in golf or Michael Jordan in Basketball, musical intelligence like Mozart, and other types of intelligence which you can seek out easily with little effort.
Paying Your Bills: Invariably, the question of money becomes a factor. So many would say, "I am not living in a perfect world." We all have responsibilities to meet mortgage payments, child rearing, and paying all of our household bills. Thus we have to include money in the equation. Could I choose a profession based purely on my passions or abilities and leave my existing line of work? Could my passion for music and guitar-playing abilities put food on the table and meet all my monthly obligations? Think about all the time spent in the garage fixing up old cars, would anyone pay me to do that? It is said that there are many very unhappy people driving around in Mercedes cars! They make a lot of money doing something they hate.
I Won the Lottery: But what if you don’t have to worry about the financial value of a particular endeavor? Let’s suppose that you have enough money to never have to work again in your life. You’ve just won the lottery yesterday or even inherited a fortune from your long lost grandfather, a sum that was more than enough to support a standard of living you desire for the rest of your life. What would you do with your life then? What kind of career or profession would you pursue? At some point, you will have to find an activity to fill your days with. You probably would examine your hobbies and your interests.
You can only lounge around for so very long. Would you drink your life away? If you do, you should think about opening a bar then. Or would you rather spend the rest of your days on a beach? If so, why not move to the tropics and run a restaurant or rent out a boat or a yacht? If you would like to spend your time helping the poor, maybe you could try organizing a shelter or an orphanage or working in one. If your passion is for business, maybe you can be an angel investor and work with new startup companies in a market or technology you are passionate about.
Imagine doing things that you happen to be good at and they also pays your bills, but you hate it. How long can you keep the fire within you going and passionate enough to learn new things and keeping up with the winds of change today?. On the other hand, let’s imagine that someone is willing to pay you to do things you love to do so much like singing, or performing magic tricks, but no matter how hard you tried you are not good at? How long do you think the paychecks will keep coming? Again, you love your profession, you are good at what you do but you cannot find someone to pay you for what you do. What should you do?
My belief is that, if you excel in what you do and you are truly good at it, you should already be somewhat happy. My experiences tell me that you could find people to support your cause and share your belief if you really excel in what you do and are passionate about it. All you need to do is to make some adjustments in order that your benefactors or partners could benefit from what you do. For example, if you love to sing Chinese Opera and are very good at it but there is a limited audience for your performance, you may consider moving to Hong Kong or wherever your performance is appreciated by a larger pool of people.
This also applies in an organization setting. If your organization and the people in it do not truly believe or are not passionate about your services or products, how long would it last? The market soon will cause you to close down. So the organization should be passionate about providing services or products, and constantly reinvigorate their core strength or company’s core DNA to excel in their business.