On a recent vacation, a friend and I arrived at a formula for selecting one’s job or profession.
It’s a function of three key drivers:
Desire / Passion: This is about never settling until you find what you really want to do for the rest of your life – the sort of stuff from Steve Jobs’ seminary Stanford graduation speech.
Skill: Having the desire is one thing, but you also need to have the skill, unless you have unlimited patience and money to chase your dream until your next life beckons. I’m sure you will find about 300 million Indians who would like to play cricket for the country for as long as their idol Sachin did. Only a few will have the skill to pull if off.
Opportunity: How much will your passion pay? My passion could be to photograph bees around the world. Problem is that there are probably about a couple of organisations that will want to pay for those pictures which may not be sufficient to make a career out of it. However, if making good money was not a key driver, you could of course make this your career!
Choosing a profession is ultimately a trade-off across this professional trilogy. Most of us focus on two and three and spend our lives acquiring ‘marketable’ skills. Some, you could argue, pull off the third without having sufficient of the second!
Here’s a couple of thought experiments that make for a good conversation specially as you near the dawn of the new year:
1. If money was no bar (assume someone incremented your bank account by a few millions, like they do in spy movies), what profession would you want to pursue?
Personally, I’d love to register myself at the KM Conservatory (this is A. R. Rahman’s school for symphony orchestra) and pursue music for the rest of my life. I’m of course assuming here that KM Conservatory admits people like me approaching mid-life crises! I’m also assuming that I will acquire some skill over time to sustain my passion lifelong.
2. If money and skills (assume you could be programmed to acquire the necessary skills instantly a la The Matrix) were no bar, what profession would you want to pursue?
My personal choice would be that of a sitcom script writer. A dream come true would be to sit through a script writing session for a sitcom like The Big Bang Theory and watch how the creative team seeds an idea and iterates it over and over to arrive at that final sequence which gets us into splits.
What trade-offs are you making today as you polish your LinkedIn profile in the new year? What would your response be for the two thought experiments?