According to the Conference Board, a New York-based research nonprofit group, only 48.7% of American employees are satisfied with their job. Career articles advise working-age adults to "Find Your Passion," but the issue is...it's still difficult to figure out how. The reality is that there's no guidebook out there as our lives are so diversely unique.
If you are in the predicament of figuring out your passion, it is recognized that you are ultimately a part of a privileged group. How lucky are we to have the time, stability, and choice to figure what we want? Unfortunately, choices and expectations themselves can be unknown and overwhelming. I fear; however, that we too often get stuck in our day-to-day routines and miss out on what we truly need...that perhaps we get so blinded by what we've always done that we can't identify and lose track of what we actually want. But most importantly, because of this pursuit of a higher meaning, we often forget the people around us.
Throughout the years, I've become convinced that more important than trying to figure out a passion is building a foundation of good people, those of whom may ultimately lead you to unexpected paths and unpredictable careers. And simply enough, when you're surrounded by good people, life just gets better.
There are certain transformative experiences that demonstrated to me that relationship-building trumps any individual pursuit.
- Collective activism is more empowering than your own journey - In 2006, the United Nations Secretary-General estimated that 2.7 billion people lived on less than $2.00 a day. I felt a calling to do whatever I could and set out to serve for 27 months with the US Peace Corps in West Africa. The Cameroonian community members I lived and worked with; however, taught me more than any technical skills I taught them. We may have lacked electricity and a budget, but we were able to create a community market for 8,000 residents based on the power of bringing people together and a strong a sense of community.
I have a friend who's a fighter pilot for the Marines Corps and flies an F-35, the newest stealth fighter plane in the world. He's the toughest guy I know with bucket list items checked off from running 50-mile races to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Even fighter pilots; however, must always fly with 2-4 other jets in formation serving as wingmen. Their mantra is built on a system of mutual support to always look out for one another. The last time we spoke, I asked him about what retired fighter pilots miss the most. Was it the covert missions? Flying jet planes? The most common answer was simply "brotherhood."
You don't necessarily need to sacrifice large amounts time or money for transformational experiences or to find good people. Building and cultivating a network could be in the form a Lean in Circle or simply appreciating your family and friends.
At the end of the day, find your passion, but more importantly find your tribe. They may just get you to your passion after all.