In our last note, I highlighted different career paths that people tend to take. With such differences apparent in how we all go about building our careers, I would argue a systems-based approach to career planning work better. Goals change and career models change but the system by which you navigate your journey can be established and modified as you go along.
Scott Adams, Dilbert creator and all round good guy, is an interesting and wise character and made some good points in a recent article for Inc. magazine about career planning.
“beware of advice from successful people because no two situations are alike”
“inspirational biographies are no help – biographers never have access to the internal thoughts of successful people. If a biographer says Henry Ford invented the assembly line to impress women, that’s probably a guess”
“don’t follow your passion”
Wait a minute, come again? You’re telling me not to follow my passion?? Yes, dear reader, we agree with Dilbert. Passion will undoubtedly give you high energy, high resistence to rejection and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. However, Adams’ point is that banks don’t lend to passionate people, on the basis that they are not objective and dispassionate enough in their decision-making and therefore represent a bad credit risk. He says banks want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.
The point seems to be this: it’s easy to be passionate about situations that are working out and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. Situations that don’t work out tend to slowly drain the passion as they fail. Things that work out become more exciting as they succeed.
The problem is that most work is not passion-inducing, is it? I remember working for corporates in the 90s and always noticing those who were more “passionate” than others. You know the ones – first in last out, seem to have read all the industry rags, best briefed at sales meetings, always ready to smile ‘n’ dial. It looked and sounded great and the bosses loved it. Looking back, we suspect lots of them were more passionate about what the job could do for them, not the job itself – rise through the ranks quicker, get paid quicker, leave quicker. And that’s no bad thing. It’s just you need to be clear about what and who you’re doing it for and why.