Contributed by Katya Beebe
In my last semester of college, I took a course in Global Health Diplomacy where the professor for the course called himself the Ambassador for Health. Having studied Diplomacy and International Relations for the past four years, this didn’t seem right to me since I was aware that the US government did not have an official position for a Health Minister.
I quickly came to realize that this professor who studied in the medical field intending to become a doctor decided at some point to change course in his career plans. Instead of becoming a practitioner, this professor took his extensive knowledge of medicine and health and essentially created his own position as he became the first U.S. diplomat of ambassador rank appointed to a public health mission.
More than anything else I took away from that course a new perspective on what it means to have a career. This professor had a role in mind that he wanted to fill and he was able to achieve that through his own unique creativity. Had he followed a path so many others had paved before him, he might not have made a unique and valuable contribution.
CARP’s last but not least Unification Principle is that “we contribute to society through mastery of our unique creativity.” This is the message that college graduates (of any year) need to hear.
Passion Isn’t Enough
It’s become commonplace to offer certain pieces of advice to college students that are actually quite misleading and incomplete. “Follow your passion” is a very attractive message. But relying on passion alone will not make you happy in the end.
Consider this graph that shows the relationship between a sample of student’s passions and the available jobs in those industries. If you cannot make a living with your passion, how long will that passion keep you happy?
Even some of the most successful people today did not necessarily follow their passion and yet they are passionate about their work. In many of these cases, people took on opportunities that eventually led to their passion.
For example, Steve Jobs – a pretty successful guy – became passionate about technology after a myriad of jobs and experiences that had little to do with his career at Apple. Jobs also made a valuable contribution to society in providing people with a means for greater convenience.
It would seem that helping others and improving society especially in big problem areas can guide a fulfilling career.
Our contributions need to be unique because they need to be diverse. Diversity is at the heart of a healthy and thriving community. In a democracy, diversity in perspectives and ideas can contribute to more inclusive solutions. A company needs diversity in its workforce to succeed in a globalizing world. A campus club like CARP benefits from a diverse membership in contributing to exciting and relatable programs and events.
Finding Your Creativity
Instead of following your passion (which is a state of passivity), take control and master your unique creativity which will then lead to a passion-driven life. But before you can master anything, you need to be able to identify the thing you are mastering.
So, if you haven’t already, how do you find your unique creativity? You need to take the time to ask a number of key questions about your life experience so far.
Take out a pen and paper and start with these:
- Name the top 3 peak experiences in your life. What do they have in common? What does this tell you about yourself?
- What are 3 of your most proud accomplishments? What were the key elements that defined this experience – the task, the skill set you drew upon, and the nature of the impact you made?
- What are 3 big problems in the world that interest you? What would you like to tell your children and grandchildren about what you accomplished in your career? How will you explain to them what career you chose?
Happiness in your career is the cross between what you love, what you’re good at, and where you can make the greatest contribution to society. For more questions around your unique contribution, read through this article by Oliver Segovia in the Harvard Business Review.
We all have our unique creativity fueled by our interests and skills (which embodies passion), but sometimes the voices of other people cloud what we might already know and believe about ourselves. This is why it’s important to think out these questions on your own.
Whether you are fixed on a career path or not, take the time to ask yourself the rightquestions, consider your answers, and write them down. Then, you can set aside the question of what and focus on the how.
To master your unique creativity and offer that to the world will do wonders for your career.