jim collins

"What is it that you're passionate about?"

As much as I love this question in theory, the reality of having it posed to me is nothing short of unnerving. Because when push comes to shove, I am not sure how to answer it. I feel like I'm suppose to have an answer and, if I'm honest, at this point I don't.

This season is an altogether new one for me. For the past 6 years I've been an on-and-off-but-mostly-on student. A student is someone who pays a whole bunch of money, sometimes borrowed monies from the government, to become educated. By most of the world's standards, it's a luxury. But becoming educated is, when you think about it, a service to the individual - hence it's colossal price tag. Yes, we do have to work hard to remain enrolled, but others are working just as hard to run the system and provide you with something that you've paid for. It's like bar method classes: I spend [too much] money on my monthly membership to the bar method and they facilitate and help me develop in my fitness, but when I go, I ultimately am the one that has to put the work in to strengthen and tone.

For the first time in a long time forever, I now am going to earn money. For two stinkin' years. This is a completely foreign concept to me. I mean I've had tons of jobs but they've always been part time, seasonal, and/or just way too much fun to really consider it working (i.e. camp). I am in this shift of mindset where I am not only accountable to myself but now I am reporting to others around me on a Monday to Friday, 9-5 basis.

When you're a student you can leave your papers to the last minute. You can cram for your exams, skip classes, or show up to your classes in body only (guilty) leaving your mind somewhere far, far away. Ultimately, however, you alone pay the consequences for however you chose, and to whatever extent you chose, to be lazy. Almost everyone experiences this in their first year of University - you get out what you put in. And it's you that suffers the consequences of slacking off or being unprepared. In a job, it's nothing like this. Your lack of enthusiasm for your work, and any kind of slacking, regardless of what it is, will hurt others around you and/or the business that your name is attached to.

I have a confession to make. This isn't easy but it's important that I tell you - I think I've spent the majority of my life cutting corners. I don't know when it started or how I became this way, but I think I'm good at it. If cutting corners was a sport, I would have the gold metal. I am good at finding short cuts and putting as little effort as possible to achieve results that are satisfactory. I think everyone likes this to a degree, but I think I've been way too good at it. I feel like much of my actual success in life, and anything I've achieved with flying colors, has happened as a result of being in the right place at the right time and God just being way too wonderful to me. I am beyond thankful for it, but it's left me a little confused about how the world, and particularly our industrialized society, really works.

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker one time.

She's like, " ...one day I realized that winning people is good but that you won't make it in life, and you won't be sustained, if you know how to win people without putting in the hard work and being good at things too. You're a good people-person, and I am too. But sometimes... you have to actually do stuff you're good at, stuff you don't want to do, and work hard"

Maybe I somehow brain-washed myself into thinking that the people-skills would carry me through. But she is right.

The things is, though, that I can't just do those things (working hard, and doing stuff you don't want to do, etc) for the sake of a pay check. And I also definitely can't do it out of fear of failing the people around me or my boss or just plain looking bad. Those two motivators are not really motivators at all. And if they prosper as primary motivators in the work place, the world will become filled with a bunch of ugly people who are unhappy and crappy. So how do I avoid becoming that person? How do I love what I do but also do it diligently, with effort, with care and consideration for myself and those around me, and remain sane in the process? I honestly don't think that any of those need to be compromised. After all, this is kinda it - we only have one shot.

What I've come to realize over the course of this hectic summer is that I need to be motivated to do what I do to keep my rent paid and food on the table. And the motivation needs to come from a pure and organic love for what I'm doing. Whether I am going to be saving lives or selling stretchy pants, I need to genuinely care about it. This isn't true for everyone but it certainly is true for me.

Do something you're good at and something you're going to be passionate about. Life is way too short to spend 40 hours of your time a week on anything less than that. It seems elementary and kind of over-generalized but this reality has been dawning on me like one of those eureka!'s that happen while I'm sleeping. It's simple but important. It's going to determine if you're living or just killing time.