Archive for March 2013

Following Passion is Different than Cultivating Passion


Do you want to love what you do for a living? Follow your passion. This piece of advice provides the foundation for modern thinking on career satisfaction and this is a problem. We follow different strategies to pursue happiness in our work. It is clear early in this process that the suggestion to "follow your passion" is flawed.

The first strike against this advice is the lack of scientific evidence. Motivation and satisfaction in the workplace is a major research topic, as happy employees are better employees. It’s difficult, however, to find studies that argue the importance of matching a work environment to a pre-existing passion. Most studies instead point to the importance of more general traits, like autonomy or a sense of competence; see, for example, the voluminous research literature on Self-Determination Theory for more on such findings. These traits are agnostic to the specific type of work performed, contradicting the idea that you must find the exact right job to be happy.

The second strike against this advice comes from the anecdotal evidence. If you study the career paths of people who end up loving their work, you’ll find that clearly identified pre-existing passions are rare. Some people do figure out early on what they want to do with their life, but most follow much more complicated paths on which passion emerges slowly over time.

Just because "follow your passion" is bad advice, however, doesn’t mean that you should abandon the goal of feeling passionate about your work. This reality instead emphasizes that the strategies that work are more complicated. Below is how people actually end up loving what they do.

Different people are looking for different things in their work, but in general, if you study people with compelling careers, they enjoy some combination of the following traits: autonomy, respect, competence, creativity, and or a sense of impact. In other words, if you want to feel passionate about your livelihood, don’t seek the perfect job, instead seek to get more of these traits in the job you already have.

The problem, of course, is that these traits are rare and valuable. Just because you really want a job that allows you to autonomously tackle respected creative projects doesn’t mean that someone will hand it to you. These rare and valuable traits require that you have rare and valuable skills to offer in return, and building these skills requires time and deliberate effort. If you’re unfulfilled in your current position, therefore, start by asking how you can become more valuable.

Passion is elusive. Many people develop the rare and valuable skills that can lead to passion, but still end up unhappy in their work. The problem is that the traits that might lead you to love your work are more likely to be useful to you than your organization. As you become increasingly valuable, for example, your boss might push you toward traditional promotions that come with more pay and more responsibility, as this is what is most useful to your company — whereas you might find more passion by leveraging your value to gain autonomy in your schedule or project selection. Getting good, in other words, is not enough by itself. You have to use your ability wisely. This pattern is common in the stories of people who end up loving their work: after they develop rare and valuable skills they then use these skills as leverage to take control of their career path, often veering far off the standard trajectory. This act of leverage requires courage, but can return great rewards.

Passion is dangerous. Some argue that "follow your passion" is harmless advice. If it can help even a small number of people realize that they don’t have to settle, what’s the problem? I disagree. I’ve seen too many of my peers fall into anxiety and chronic job-hopping due to this flawed advice. The issue is expectations. If you believe that we all have a pre-existing passion, and that matching this to a job will lead to instant workplace bliss, then reality will always pale in comparison. Work is hard. Not every day is fun. Building the skills that ultimately lead to a compelling career can take years of effort. If you’re seeking a dream job, you’ll end up disappointed, again and again.

Don’t set out to discover passion. Instead, set out to develop it. This path might be longer and more complicated than what most upbeat career guides might preach, but it’s a path much more likely to lead you somewhere worth going.


Living a Life with No Regrets



I know I know nothing; it allows me to feel convinced to learn from those who really know! A life of purpose cannot be defined by a particular achievement. Each person has a unique blend of gifts and abilities that make up their giving to the world. I decidedly support reaching for the stars. Leaving a legacy and living a life with no regrets is more about acceptance of the lessons life teaches. It is about having the wisdom to grow, learn, expand and change when needed.

A legacy is what you leave behind for the world to remember. It can be the sway you had on a friend or the job you executed as a parent. It can be a charitable giving or the brunt you made on the business world. Large or small, we are all leaving a legacy. Living a life with no regrets involves defining what you want that legacy to be. Don’t let someone else make a decision. Only you know what type of life you want to lead. It is never too late to leave a mark, even if it is as simple as a smile or a kind word for those around you. Many times we underrate the impact of a small gesture. Kind expressions, no matter how seemingly irrelevant, may be the thing that people keep in mind about you after your time has passed.

Living a life free of regrets involves letting go. It involves letting go of the would-have, should-have, could-have mentality. Dwelling on how you could have lived differently is damaging to your spirit. Sometimes we do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. Frequently, the wrong choices bring us to the right places. Make the choice now to forgive yourself, as the world needs the best of you. You cannot give your best when you dwell on past hurts or perceived mistakes.

Another part of leaving a legacy is when you live a full life that you love and which you are sharing with others you leave a legacy. Ask yourself what have I enjoyed most in my life so far? What am I passionate about? What would I like to be remembered for? Questions like these can be powerful in defining your goals and moving you into a life that you are proud to live.

To live a life with no regrets, leave behind a legacy for your family and the world by simply enjoying your life daily. Forgive yourself and others, follow your own path, look for happiness in the little things, and find something you enjoy that allows you to share and give back. Be kind and gracious to those you meet and embrace the joyful life you were meant to live. Man is only truly great when he acts from his passions.

Live out your passions and rest assured that you can live this life with no regrets.


DNA Mapping Could Save Your Life


You may think you know yourself like the back of your hand, but unless you’ve been DNA tested, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about yourself. Within each of the 50 trillion cells in your body rests the microscopic DNA that programs your entire being; your hair color, your height, your freckles or lack thereof, your likelihood of developing cancer and whether or not you can taste cilantro. Nevertheless, few people in their lifetime have actually unlocked this information via DNA mapping. For starters, it used to be quite expensive. Some might not even realize they have access to this information, while others simply might want to know what their DNA has in store for them as life unfolds.

Crushing these barriers is Anne Wojcicki’s 23andMe, a $99 DNA testing kit that requires just a few milliliters of spit. That’s it, no blood tests or pesky skin pricks. Eight weeks after mailing the kit back, you’ll receive a full genetic report that outlines your health risks and ancestry. During those two months, the scientists in 23andMe’s lab extract DNA from the cells in your spit and amplify the DNA so they have enough to work with. From there, the DNA is genotyped, yielding your unique report of what makes you, you. To get the full picture of their ancestry, though, women need to have their father or brother take the test; while everyone has mitochondrial DNA, paternal DNA is passed along through the Y chromosome, which women don’t have.

Thus far, more than 200,000 users have been genotyped via 23andMe, and 90% of those have opted to participate in the company’s research efforts. Each survey question counts as a data point, and to date, 23andMe has collected more than 100 million data points, with 2 million more coming each week. The company’s in-house research has studied life-threatening sarcomas, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, as well as lighter topics; unibrows and why Shar-Pei dogs are so wrinkly.

With an eye toward revolutionizing health care, the company raised 50 million dollars last year to drop the price of the kits from $999 to $99 and dramatically grow its database. In her blog post about the price drop, Wojcicki writes, "This change is not just about a new price point for personal genetic testing. It is about an ambitious plan that could transform medicine for generations to come."

Would you do the test, if it revealed that you have an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease or lung cancer? People have strong opinions either way, but knowledge is power. It is very holistic to empower people with their genetic information. You, the individual, don’t have a voice in the system. You’re talked about as a human subject, with no agency in the health care system. You’re simply told what you’re going to get, and it’s often dictated by your insurance company.

The industry is filled with really, really good people who want to make a difference in health care, but the system is set up in such a way that we really don’t have optimal health care. Take Type 2 Diabetes, for example. It’s a preventable disease, but no one makes money until you actually develop diabetes and need to buy insulin and testing strips. The system is set up so they make tons of money once you’re diabetic, but if you don’t develop diabetes, no one makes money. This is a fundamental flaw in the system.

Because your genotype outlines your risks for developing various diseases and disorders, health care could one day focus on prevention. Patients would rather prevent a disease than treat it effectively, but in today’s system, doctors are taught how to treat various conditions, not prevent them altogether. Public should be empowered with their genetic information. It is really important information about your health, really fascinating information about your ancestry, and the aggregate data of having millions and millions of people together will create this incredibly powerful database that’s going to filter back to you and give you more information about you and make you healthier.

Interestingly, health care reform has piqued insurance companies’ interest in prevention, because understanding your genetics could keep you healthier and prevent complications and costly side effects. But while insurance companies may want this information, it is firmly protected by federal law, and that the information in essence, your identity, should be controlled by the individual at this point in time.

Though 23andMe has been around since 2006, its growth and database have skyrocketed since the $99 price point was introduced. With more people in the database, the company can provide a fuller user experience and tell you more about what your genes mean. What company is really focused on is growth right now. As the customer base grows, so too do the volume of emotional stories. 23andMe saved many lives and having your genetic information will revolutionize things for you.

Wojcicki has a degree in biology from Yale, her father is a particle physicist, and she grew up on Stanford’s campus, going to particle physics meetings and listening to people who want to challenge Einstein’s theories. The particle physicist community is a really fabulous community, and they’re really about the pursuit of science for the sake of science and pursuit of truth. It’s not a commercial entity, and I have a huge respect for them because they’re really passionate about what they do.


Just Do It And Do Not Let Go Until It Becomes A Reality


To be successful, you must acquire a vision. A vision is a clearly articulated picture of the future you intend to create for yourself. It’s a dream. If the dream does not have direction, it will always remain a dream; will never become a reality. The vision creates passion within you, a love for what you do and the benefit it will bring to others as well as yourself.

Your vision must be very specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and tangible. When you believe you have chosen an appropriate career goal, look at it very specifically and measure your progress. How will you know you are progressing in the right direction? This is where the development of short-term objectives comes in. You will know you are on the right path as you accomplish each short-term objective. Appraise strictly; is the goal achievable considering your current life situation and circumstances? Is what you want to do is really realistic? What will you specifically have at the end? What will you be exactly? You must be very specific. You must establish a strict tangible time frame with deadlines. The time frame creates sense of urgency; which will limit the possibility of procrastination.

Get this vision first and your path will become clear. Still, you will need a mentor, counselor, or coach who will be able to help you develop a road map embedded with short-term objectives leading to your overall career goals and objectives. The achievement of short-term objectives will indicate you are moving in the correct direction, and will also give you energy and excitement to carry on towards your overall career goal. It demands serious research, but you most likely have some basic ideas already. Follow them through, look at the nature of your field, the everyday routine, the required education, the salary, the occupational demand in the related field.

When a career sparks an interest, try to shadow an individual who is actually doing what you think you might like to do. You can pick up valuable information by shadowing individual who is actually doing what you think you might like to do. Acquire the will to change circumstances. Acquire the vision or dream. Develop a road-map embedded with short-term objectives leading to your overall goal and objective. Just do it and do not let go until it becomes a reality.


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