You’ve heard the advice, usually from people who are fabulously successful: “Follow your passion!”
If only everyone would do that! Why, then… who would collect our garbage? Or work in a noisy warehouse? Or stand behind the counter at the bank serving customers for 8 hours a day?
Who would become an underpaid, overworked, rarely thanked hotel maid? Or putting stickers on every single item at a dollar store? Or stand in the hot sun holding a Stop Sign while a construction crew paved a road?
Yeah. Follow your passion.
And if your passion is fishing? Or model railroading? Or amateur theatre?
Love It! But It Doesn’t Love Me!
Worse, what if your passion is something that pays well, but isn’t something you’re good at? What if you stink? Thus those shows like “So You Think You Can Dance?” which features people who really have what it takes and other people who move like they’re in a body cast and drunk.
As comedian Chris Rock brilliantly asserted in his recent comedy special, “You can be anything you want… If you’re good…and they’re hiring.”
Hmm. If you are good. Right…
There are a lot of careers I dreamed of pursuing. And I would have if I had even a modicum of talent.
For example, I dreamed of being a huge rock star, but I sing like a wounded beagle, have no sense of rhythm and a tin ear.
Becoming a magician sounded like fun, but I discovered my hand weren’t built for it.
I tried to to be a juggler but my hand-eye coordination is appalling. I can poke my eye while brushing my hair.
Screenplay writing was something I desperately wanted to do, writing screenplays and making feature films, but they take years of your life from start to finish, and I have ADHD.
It’s Not Just The Right Mindset
What if you’re passion is brain surgery but your hands shake and you pass out at the sight of blood?
Which reminds me of a conversation I had with my dentist.
I asked him why people in his profession seemed to have a higher suicide rate, suggesting it’s because every client dreads coming in, they often inflict pain, and they never, or rarely get a thank you. (I know this because when my mother sent a thank you note to her dentist many years ago he wrote back to say how much the acknowledgement meant, because in 30 years of practice no patient had ever written a thank you. Not one. Ouch. If we don’t receive at least three messages a week from people telling us how TotallyADD or one of our videos saved their life/career/marriage/child’s future I am prone to despair.)
My Dentist had a Different Theory
He felt that many of his peers take their lives because, “They don’t have the hands. This is a hand-skill.”
He said this as he was carving a temporary tooth, so I could see what he meant. Working on teeth is like making fine jewelry. And if you blunder while making a piece of jewelry you can just melt the gold down down and start over.
He said, “I’m the son of an immigrant construction worker. I’ve got the hands. I can make things.” He actually does all kinds of projects on the weekends and is a gifted woodworker.
“What happens is these sons of wealthy doctors, who’ve never held a hammer or done anything requiring dexterity, get into the field because of the money. But you don’t actually get to work on a patient’s mouth until third or fourth year. By then, they’re committed. It’s a shock to discover they’re not good at it. But they graduate, because they’re smart, they get into practice and make great money. They invest money with other dentists in property and businesses, join the country club, own the cars, boat, cottage… The whole nine yards… And then more and more patients show up with dental work that is falling apart. The dentist can see, ‘My work isn’t good.’ And they’re in their 40’s, too late to change careers… they’re trapped. They either become teachers, or they end it all.”
At that point my dentist finished carving the temporary cap, “Open…” and he dropped it perfectly into place.
(By the way, according to the Center for Disease Control Dentists are not all that more likely to commit suicide. The highest rates are for Farmers, Fishing, and Forestry workers. So much for being close to nature.
What Is Your REAL Passion?
Sorry, we started out talking about our passions and somehow I’ve lead you to suicide…
Here’s what I wanted to point out, and would have pointed out if I hadn’t gotten distracted, but you must admit the story of my dentist… What? Oh, right. Sorry.
When you’re looking at potential careers list a dozen that would be your dream job. Don’t worry about your clumsiness, if you want to be in Cirque De Soliel, write it down. Search and Rescue? Astronaut? Brain Surgeon? Famous designer? Write them out.
Then look for common threads.
Take my dream careers—magician, filmmaker, juggler, rock star—the common thread is clear: Entertainer. Performer. Making people cheer, smile, feel good, laugh, be amazed…
I found the right field. Show biz.
But there are a lot of different careers in theatre, film, and television. Watch the closing credits of a movie. They list jobs even I don’t recognize! And I’ve been making television for 30 years.
I didn’t have the sense of design needed to be a costume designer, or the eye for lighting or camera, or any skill as a makeup artist.
As well, I found the process of making movies incredibly slow and boring.
But I can make people laugh. And I can come up with a ton of ideas.
“If you’re good… and they’re hiring.”
Chris Rock is right.
No one was going to hire me to be a choreographer. I can’t choreograph my own movement from the bed to the breakfast table without stubbing my toe along the way.
I’ve only ever finished one screenplay that got produced and it was really just a collection of outrageous scenes… Short skits.
But I’ve written, performed, directed, or produced 700 episodes of skit comedy, sketches, for radio and television. If you know The Red Green Show, you know it’s really a ridiculous storyline, all of which happens off camera, and then a whole bunch of regular features… short skits.
History Bites featured a bunch of shorter skits as well.
If you or a loved one are trying to find The Perfect Career for ADHD, you’ll find great advice in our video entitled, sensibly enough, The Perfect Career for ADHD.
And start by listing the dream jobs.
Maybe think about some of them and imagine what they’d be like… Rock Star? Drugs? Touring? Gradually going deaf? Hmm… Okay, I could do without that. But I do like the idea of making people happy, cheering, jumping for joy…
What’s your passion? Why? What is it about that? What do you love about it?
Figure that out. Then look at all the careers that might give you that.
For example, “I want to help people who are suffering.” Great. Nurse. Doctor. Dentist. Life Coach. Teacher. Police Officer. Therapist. Aid Worker. Politician. Running a Charity. Personal Trainer. Dietician. Journalist. Even… Comedian
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