Toronto musician and creative director, Tracy Jones

Career advice revisited: Instead of ‘following’ your passions – make them work for you

Tracy Jones|

Maybe it’s all the Jack Handy-esque Facebook affirmations. Perhaps it’s all the commercials celebrating the Olympic ideal, or maybe it’s that I have an 18-year-old son who is wrestling with which direction to take as he heads to university. It seems there’s a fair amount of discussion these days about the idea of “finding one’s passion” in my business and social circles.

We’ve all heard the phrase “find your passion and the money will follow”. It’s a lovely, idealistic sound bite, but I think it’s worthy of some discussion. A recent article referred to this as the worst piece of career advice ever. I understand the sentiment, especially when you observe what appears to be an entire generation of entitled kids jumping from post-secondary “passion to passion” and not getting down to the business of building a viable, self-reliant life out of the bedroom they grew up in. I can’t imagine it myself, but my dad never tried to be “the cool dad” and my mom was certainly not my BFF (until we were both much older and I had kids of my own).

Perhaps it’s worth considering what it means to find your passion as it relates to working, making money and creating a “career” in whatever form that may take.

Here’s a thought: what if we stopped talking about the product of the passion and focused more on the process?

As long as I can remember, I have had a guitar in my hand. As a kid, I dreamed of playing arena stages and touring the world (to tell the truth, I still do). In my 20’s I was in a pretty popular band, playing shows, making videos, doing interviews etc., but after a few years, it became clear to me that although music was my life (read “passion”), the music business was never likely to create the conditions to be my livelihood. So the question then becomes, how did this passion relate to my 25+ year career as a writer, a Creative Director and Strategist?

As a singer/songwriter, I have come to understand that I am an observer of the human condition, in myself and externally. I translate those reflections and observations into hooks that become the basis of song lyrics that hopefully connect with people who hear my music. Insight, distilled into a memorable proposition, conveyed through a media art. Sound familiar? It’s not about the song; it’s about the interpretation of the life experience that guided the writing. That’s a passion and I have applied that passion to a career I always thought I fell into, but upon reflection, maybe not.

Rather than focusing on the end product, reflecting on our Passion Process will help illuminate the way to a rewarding and successful career, doing something you really love, because it was in you all along. #thingsIwillteachmychild
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Tracy Jones is a life-long musician and artist who has built a successful career as a Creative Director at several Canadian advertising and digital agencies. He his currently a Creative Pathfinder at TraceElements Creative and Strategy. tracy@traceelements.ca | @tracyjones

See also: The only piece of career advice I will offer my son


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Category: Career Dilemmas, Student,
 
  • http://www.good.co/blog Lisa – Good.Co

    What a great notion! I know I – and a large swath of what, for want of a better term, one would call my generation – have struggled to find balance between doing something I love versus something that makes money, and have discovered that the Venn diagram of life does not always show those things as two overlapped circles. One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with people who were successful at school is that that is all school teaches about success – how to produce results according to a strict and consistent set of expectations – and those who are able to produce desirable results within that narrow context are often worst at translating those skills to the production of desirable results in the somewhat larger context of life.
    Thanks for the interesting read! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co