I was talking to the smartest person I think I’ve ever had a chance to meet recently, and the discussion was focused around how corporate America and academia seem so incredibly different: she’s a researcher at a lab, I’m pretty firmly planted in the corporate world. Her experience in the lab is as follows.
- Everyone in the lab is there because they are incredibly passionate about what they are doing
- If they are not passionate about it, the research will suffer, funding will suffer, and eventually, the lab will fold
Now granted, this is probably me oversimplifying the argument a bit, but that’s pretty much it: Love it or leave it. She was amazed that there are people who are not doing the things that they are passionate for their employment. I thought that was pretty rare in the corporate world: you get a lot of people who either get comfortable or don’t have a passion for what they are doing (or at least that’s what I’ve observed… I’m willing to accept that my position could be totally wrong). Ideally, this should be possible: anyone should be able to find employment in or around something they are passionate about (e.g., a triathlete may not be able to go pro, but there are entire industries around triathlon that exist). But I also think there are tradeoffs that might need to be considered: family, money, location, etc. And perhaps it’s very easy at our age to pick our careers based on passion, but as we grow older and more experienced, it might also be true that various pathways get closed off to us. Anyhow, it was a very interesting and thought provoking conversation.
Anyhow, I was thinking about this this morning, and realized that I am suffering from an embarrassment of riches, especially when it comes to my athletic pursuits. Yes, the #mangledankle has been a setback, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a really small setback (3 weeks? a bit of extra gained weight?). But I do find myself wavering between ultramarathons and triathlon: with triathlon there’s the constant pursuit to get faster; with ultra there’s the question of whether I can actually complete the race. And then managing the two: I know it’s doable. It’s a lot of hard work. But I’ve wanted to do both for years now, and I can’t think of any reason not to anymore. I don’t want to realize too late that I love ultras. I don’t want to realize that I could’ve done both but didn’t.
So that’s the plan. Go big. All in. Adding JFK50 to the plan this year.
What about you? Are you passionate about what you are doing? Do you think the job exists for everyone where they would be passionate?