I read an article today about how parents are doing their children a disservice by pushing them to find their passions. Pushing your kids to succeed in a way that helps them get the most out of themselves can be really beneficial. Pushing them to a point where they are unhappy or in negative stress, is just bad parenting.
I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. She knew that writing is what she wanted to do from early on in life. She has also commented on how some of her friends are multi-talented and how that can make it difficult to find your passion. Each path is probably worth exploring, at least a little until you’re ready to make a choice. Ideally, that choice should not be based on how much money you can make, or pressure from anyone, but rather on how you find meaning.
People discover their passions at varying stages of their lives. I have enjoyed many areas in my past and currently my career path is changing, half way through my career. It might not even end up being that different from my past, but I will be sure that it’s implemented on purpose. When my parents where choosing a career the options went something like doctor, dentist, lawyer, teacher, secretary. Now, the mere options are inexhaustible and with technology shaping the world so dramatically, the future is open to so much more.
I remember being asked interview questions like “Where will you be in ten years’ time?” I always thought that it’s a ridiculous question because we simply cannot predict the opportunities that come our way. That seems like quite a reactive thought to have, but early on in my career I found it difficult to have a strong vision. Only once I really had exposure to the things I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, did I start to form an idea of where I’m going. Now I also realise that I may not have pursued the correct passion, although I’ve had success. The Best Possible Future Self I developed at age 25 would look really different from the one I’ve created recently.
It can be a minefield to navigate, and a decision can only be made once you know yourself well. I believe it takes courage to change career paths since it challenges your identity and how people see you. But it’s naive to expect to know everything at the start.
This week I watched a documentary on the band Queen. Watching footage of how they found inspiration for some famous songs, was truly amazing. The reading I’ve done on finding your flow emphasises the need for concentration, and typically that needs to happen while you’re alone. How wonderful that a group of four people, each bringing their special talents to the mix, can participate in a flow experience regularly to create something so beautiful.
I suppose I have had discussions in my work environment with Software Developers where we debated and discussed the solutions, and together found a great result that we could not have accomplished alone. Being a Managing Director does not accommodate that kind of flow experience unfortunately. Perhaps the Peter Principle is not the issue but rather the principle where you are promoted out of your flow. Maybe that’s why management is so grumpy and demanding.
Finding your passion can be automatic or it can take decades. As a parent, my role is to nurture them and to facilitate their path, not to push in a direction that I see. I’d like to be an enabler to them and if they take 30 years to find their passion, it was faster than me.
Finding flow can be a challenging exercise, that can take a really long time. No-one can really push you there – you do have to find it yourself. At 40 years old I’m still exploring aspects of myself, discovering what I loved when I was younger, and formulating ideas on what my future could look like. Although I’m not known for my patience, I believe rushing things would be a big mistake. My priority now is to recover to full health and while doing so, experience more things that I enjoy. Hopefully along the way my future career passion will come to light.