“Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steven Jobs.
I’ve written extensively here advising you to follow your heart, to do what you do best. So many times I see people stuck in jobs or situations that offer rewards of material wealth and yet they remain unhappy. They allow their minds to dictate their actions instead of their heart. In spite of that statement, it’s also true that many times you can be very good at doing something, something you’re passionate about, and still remain unfulfilled! What then?
Here’s a personal example of what I mean. When I was still a young boy, I discovered I had a knack with numbers. My Dad used to ask his insurance agent to stop by our farm, usually in the evenings after Dad finished his day’s work, to go over some of his insurance agent’s proposals. I recall clearly one time how his agent pulled out a calculator to tally up some numbers. Unbeknownst to both of them, I “saw” the numbers, wrote them down on a piece of paper with a pencil and had added them up correctly before his agent could finish the job on his calculator. I proudly displayed the answer, Dad just grinned at his agent, and they both burst out laughing.
Of course, years later, after graduating from college, I went on to a 25 year career in the financial world, primarily as a loan officer for the bank in the town where I grew up. I became so adept at my job I was eventually promoted to Senior Loan Officer. As the years went by though, I became less and less enamored with my situation. Something was missing. After a series of fateful and unfortunate events starting in 2007, I eventually discovered the missing piece to the puzzle. Though I’d always enjoyed the numbers and was told I was quite good at it, I was also told by my supervisors that I needed work on “people” skills. Funny thing is, and without being fully aware of it at the time, what I liked most about my job wasn’t the numbers, it was the interaction, the relationships that really spurred the passion from within.
It was only AFTER I left the bank when I discovered what my real passion is and started applying it in a practical sense. What I didn’t realize for so many years started surfacing in late 2008 and early 2009. It was expressing myself in written fashion. All those years of writing loan narratives turned out to be what I really enjoy; the power of the written word and how I can influence people in a positive sense with it. And so this blog was born, along with my Facebook page called Gusto in April 2010. The rest is history. Today, there’s been people representing over 50 countries around the world visit my website to read some of my “musings” and over 3,300 follow my Facebook page.
If you find yourself in a similar situation as I did, ask yourself some basic fundamental questions. What characteristics or skill sets am I really good at? Am I in a position where I’m taking full advantage of those characteristics? At first, you might think the position you’re in, is in line with those characteristics. But then, ask yourself this question, “Am I happy?” If not, look deeper. You might discover what your passion truly is. And regardless what you find, follow your heart’s instincts. They rarely betray you. You may also find that what your passion is doesn’t bring a big paycheck but, as we all know, happiness doesn’t come from a checkbook. It comes from inside.
Finally, if what I just wrote doesn’t convince you, then read this. It’s an article I found about Steve Jobs’ life on the internet. I apologize for not remembering the source to give proper credit but perhaps you’ll get the point. It may just change your life.
1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, "People with passion can change the world for the better." Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, "I'd get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about." That's how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.
2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, "Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?" Don't lose sight of the big vision.
3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn't have any practical use in his life -- until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don't live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.
4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the "A-Team" on each product. What are you saying "no" to?
5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?
6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't communicate your ideas, it doesn't matter. Jobs was the world's greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.
7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It's so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don't care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you'll win them over.
There's one story that I think sums up Jobs' career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that's the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.