I am inspired this week by a man known as Larry Smith. Smith works primarily as an economics professor at the University of Waterloo. On Monday, he told a room of 100 hundred other students, including myself, why you will fail to have a great career. He then told us how to fix it.
I mean really, have you ever seen a gravestone say “Here lies a terrible parent, an untrustworthy friend, and an unfaithful spouse?”
The main point of his presentation was to follow your passion, or else you will die as wasted potential. He urged us to do something that will make our life worth living, and not just about making a living. One thing I really enjoyed about Smith’s talk was how down-to-earth he was. His presentation was essentially an expansion of the TED talk he had presented for TEDxUW, which I felt was too short to do him justice. He was very much aware of the common issues students—and people in general—have when they want to pursue a job based on passion: the risk , the loss of resolve, and the hardships of actually making a living off that passion.
For students such as I who are in the middle/late stage of their first university degree, it can be a frightening thing to think about what will happen to our future. Like many in post-secondary institutions, I chose my program not for passion but for the guarantee of a safe living (well even then, I can’t say it’s a guarantee since I haven’t actually graduated yet, heh). During the Q&A portion of the talk, a student raised his concern over the dissociation between his passion and his current program of study. Smith responded with two major points: sacrifices must be made, unconventional connections always exist. Even if you already have a well-paying job or have already graduated, if you are feeling dissatisfied with your career and you have a passion so strong you want to quit your job to fulfill it, you will find a way. It will be at that point that your creativity, resourcefulness, and determination will be your best friends. How will you know if your passion is strong enough?
Oh, you’ll know. And if you don’t know, it means you’ve never felt it. Once it hits you, you’ll know you have your passion.