Do What You Love, and You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life

We’ve all heard this advice at some point in our life. Sounds amazing in theory.  Unfortunately, while it’s easy to apply in certain professions it is damn near impossible in others.

If what you love is math and accounting, there is a clear path forward to becoming a CPA. You can go to any reasonably affordable university, join a firm, start a firm. If you love software development? There’s no shortage of jobs available as a full stack engineer making six figures. If you love nursing, there is an endless demand and mobility to travel and work and be well paid for it.

What if what you truly love is screenwriting? Or playing the violin? Perhaps you want nothing more than to design ceramics and spend all day over a pottery wheel. Good luck supporting yourself and your family. There is no clear path forward and no easy solution to “making a living” in the creative or performing arts. Today it seems, monetizing creativity is like building a hotel on quicksand.

Often the barrier to entry in the field of entertainment or fine art is so high that what you love can easily become what you hate. It’s difficult to maintain that youthful optimism toward your creative spirit in the face of sky high rent, college debt and medical bills. Pragmatism will always be the neon sign flashing in your window when you wake up at 3am in a panic about your bank balance. Come breakfast you’ll be on searching for that 9-5 gig to “get you through” while you figure out your dream.

The freedom and allure of financial independence has captured younger and younger generations of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs hoping their dreams of apps and tech solutions will let them retire by 30 and tour the globe while they rake in passive income as millions of users around the world download their apps and cloud based software solutions. This is what success looks like in 2020. Build an empire and sell it off. If you’re still riding subways and elevators at 40, you’ve surely failed. The only thing you should be riding at that age is a surfboard.

The money market economy is fickle and due to the startup generation what is a valuable job today can easily become “disrupted” tomorrow. Anyone who has followed Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign is well aware of the horrorshow automation is going to bring to the American job market in the coming decade. Do you love driving a car or truck? Sadly, that won’t be an option for much longer. Do you love customer service? That too is a position that may be replaced by A.I.

Today we don’t value creative aspirations but the time may come when creativity is all we have left to do as most “jobs” won’t actually exist. So why are we making it so hard to “do what we love?” Not everyone is creative but those that are and haven’t made it are generally given an eye roll when they speak about their true aspirations. Why? Because the odds of realizing that dream are so hysterically difficult we look at creative people as idiots for trying. Often we don’t understand that for creative people, not trying brings an even greater misery than failure.

More and more of those who’ve made it and are “doing what they love” acknowledge the help they received along the way. The one person or people who took a chance and gave them that big break. Gave them that audition, listened to their demo, made that first investment, read that first script. Nobody succeeds without someone, somewhere taking an interest. That person, that moment, needs a term, a catch phrase, a moniker that is universal and crosses industries and cultures. Something other than “Gatekeeper.” I can’t imagine anyone really likes that term. Especially those with connections to make anything happen. It conjures an image of a robed wizard with a staff. Hardly the supportive and nurturing lifesaver they truly are.

If you’ve played a role in someone’s success, you’ve affected countless lives as the benefits of any one person’s success affects so many others who are working with them, for them or because of their success. It’s not something to take lightly. Having access to financing, connections, being an “influencer” or knowing decision makers is having power over potential. Anyone who has approached such a person knows the often exhausted response these people have when hearing your idea. It can be nightmarish to be endlessly pitched a business or film proposal. So they are understandably worn down by their own good fortune. You would be too.

We all get stuck in our own perceptions at times and it’s difficult to break out of. Seeing a potential opportunity is a two way street. “How can you help another person” is the best way forward. Rather than asking how they can help you. If we all had this attitude, nobody would ever have to pitch another person or hear another pitch. That would be revolutionary and more of us would be helping one another to do what we love. In a world where most of the “work” is going to be gone anyway, what else are we going to do?

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