Do What You Are

Interesting article going against the perennial career advice of “doing what you love”. Instead, the author suggests that you “do what you are”.

The pressure we feel to find a perfect career is insane. And, given that people are trying to find it before they are thirty, in order to avoid both a quarterlife crisis and a biological-clock crisis, the pressure is enough to push people over the edge. Which is why one of the highest risk times for depression in life is in one’s early twenties when people realize how totally impossible it is to simply “do what you love.”

This idea is in line with the main thread of this blog: only chasing what you love can have you end up doing that which you hate. I have often heard it said that the secret to a great career is to develop a love for something that other people can’t or won’t do. If you have a passion for picking up trash, then you can make a great living dominating the trash collection industry. Why? Because most people DON’T have a passion for it. Having a passion for something is 9/10 of the battle. The rest comes down to competitive edge. If, instead, your passion is shared with millions of other people (like acting or art) then you have a much harder road ahead of you. So, my advice is NOT to drop your dreams. That would be silly. Instead, find an angle to your dreams that involves looking at what you really ARE. Love singing/songwriting but have found it difficult to break on to the scene? Have skills when it comes to managing people and using production software? Why not go the production side of things to get started. Then, produce videos of you singing your songs. Not in the hopes that you will be the next Bieber. But so that Bieber picks up your songs and records it. You still get in to the industry, have influence, make money, etc. Play up what you are, not what you love.

So how does this apply to engineering? I can state, without question, that most engineers use the profession as a means-to-an-end. We all come to it for different reasons, but I highly doubt anyone truly LOVES engineering. You may love design, product invention, problem solving. But you get paid to manage projects, remove roadblocks, and trouble shoot processes. The result is the same: Great design goes out the door. But by acknowledging what you ARE you actually get the chance to play the game.