Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How to Get Paid to Do What You Want to Do Anyway…

For some, this may seem obvious, but a simple model for career satisfaction dawned on me a few days ago as I drove Tonka to ballet camp.

She explained to me that her future aspiration is to become a ballet teacher.

“That’s great,” I said, “but if you are going to do it, be the best ballet teacher you can be.”

This conversation led us down an interesting path as we discovered what it would take to help her reach her goal.

We narrowed it down to three steps.


For many this easy, but for many, after years of corporate experience, it’s not always that easy to reconnect to it. Still, if you’re not passionate about something, you’re never going to invest the extra effort at mastery.  Just because you’re passionate, doesn’t mean it will be easy…it’s not. There’s no guarantee you’ll make it.

If you’re not passionate, however, I guarantee you won’t make it.

Now, most of the time, the next area that people attempt to tackle is “how can I make a living at it?” I think this is the wrong second step.

SECOND, you have to minimize the amount of time you spend doing the life maintenance tasks. You MUST pay your bills, for example. You need to shower. You need to get the groceries. You need to manage your investments, run errands, drive carpool, etc. Whatever it is…these things are requirements and are not going to go away.

What you need to do is drive the amount of time you spend on them to Zero. You’ll never get to zero, but eliminating time-wasters around these “operational” tasks is critical. Setting up auto-pay on your bills is a simple example. Then, once a month, look at all of your bills to see if there are any errors. It’ll take you less time to look at 10 bills at once than 10 times to look at 1 bill.

And TIME is the critical component to the third component.

THIRD, never stop marketing Winking smile 

Actually, it really is that. It’s going to take A LOT of time to figure out what you can do with your passion so that people will pay for it. Sure, you need to invest in your passion so that it’s worthy of being purchased, but that’s the easy part. There are a ton of starving artists out there who can show you objectively great art, but it doesn’t matter, if you don’t have a customer.

And that part takes a LONG time and the BEST place from which to take that time is going to be the time you save in #2 above (after all, you want to spend as much time as you can in #1-your core passion-that’s why you’re doing it after all anyway, isn’t it?)

So, I said to Tonka…

  1. Work hard at becoming a great ballerina and a great ballet teacher
  2. get as organized as you can, so you don’t waste time looking for your ballet shoes (this fact had precipitated the conversation that morning)
  3. spend as much time as you can understanding WHY someone would pay for ballet lessons and then HOW can you differentiate in a positive way your lessons from all of the others?

Now, remove the ballet references and put your own passion in there.

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