Have you ever experienced the daunting challenge of choosing between two or more “good” choices? It is much simpler to lean into a decision when one option is clearly less desirable than another. But, what happens when the positive or negative distinction between options is less overt?
How do you choose between “goods?” What I’ve come to know in my life is that these types of decisions can be the most gut-wrenching and frustrating. For instance, when I first moved to LA I received a promising job offer. Simultaneously the opportunity to lease a new space for my own business also presented itself. I had to choose among two different “goods.”
In a perfect world I could have dabbled in the job and rented the space for my developing company. However, at the time, a hybrid choice was not on the table. No matter how I finagled my schedule and resources, it was an all or nothing decision.
Contemplating the options led me down a seemingly-infinite rabbit hole of hypotheticals. Stalling with every tactic I could fathom, the day arose where I had to choose. Accepting the job offer meant welcoming steady income, benefits and a clear career path. Saying “yes” to the commercial lease could lead to unlimited income potential as well as industry recognition as an entrepreneur.
These were two “good” options with different projected outcomes. Approaching my delightful dilemma with determination to honor my true passion and drive helped to navigate the decision. I asked myself a crucial question: What choice would I make if money was not a factor?
Money as a motivator seems attractive to many of us. After all, we live in a transaction-based world where the common currency is strips of paper and metal discs rather than our consistency of character. How could we not base our accepted possibilities upon dollars and cents?
The evening before rendering my fateful choice I overheard a high-society gentleman engaging in an animated discussion at the local “watering hole” near my apartment. He was dressed impeccably, topped off by a folded crimson handkerchief in the pocket of his blazer. Apparently he was beyond rich and some local had asked for the secret of his success.
After a few moments, the mogul imparted the following wisdom to the group of patrons closest to him:
If you want to know the secret to discovering your passion in life, there is only one question you need to ask and answer. ‘What would I do for work where being paid to do it would be a bonus, not the motivation?’ That’s all there is to it.
There are no accidents in life. As a wise teacher of mine used to say, “Everyone comes into and out of your life right on time.” Being privy to that nugget of sagacity could not have occurred at a more opportune moment.
Walking home that evening my feelings of confusion yielded to clarity. Ah ha! The answer I’d been seeking was within grasp and resting on the tip of my tongue. If money was not the motivator, and seeing that I did have some savings to draw upon, I’d pick being my own boss any day.
I chose to happily welcome the leap of faith and to turn down the job offer in favor of signing the lease on my own space. Toiling 13-hour days, six or seven days a week became the norm for me. In six years I took not one day of vacation outside of Federal Holidays. Within those formative years, I interacted with over 1000 private clients.
Playing a guiding role in a client’s physical or emotional transformation was an honor and a privilege beyond compare. One day a new coaching client suffering from years of unhappy relationships with her coworkers, shared an example of applying the work we did together into her professional interactions.
During a meeting at her office, a colleague dismissed my client’s idea as uncreative. Rather than employing her normal “retreat” strategy, our sessions empowered her to approach her coworker with compassion. She asked her officemate to expand on her assessment of the idea as being a poor fit for the campaign. My client listened thoughtfully to the response.
The coworker articulated her opinion in an even more dismissive manner, and yet my client stayed calm and once again asked to hear more. She even added a “thank you” directed at her colleague for helping her to understand her point of view. At this point, the tone of the interaction changed.
The formerly-opposed coworker now softened. She allowed herself to receive my client’s sincere gratitude and ended up backing-down from her position. She concluded that a compromise was possible and thanked my client for helping to clarify what was best for the campaign, not any one individual employee’s ego.
What’s amazing is that my client barely said anything. What she did do though was to create space for the coworker to be as she was at that moment. My client did not try to control the outcome of the meeting. She let go.
Hearing about and witnessing stories like the one above, fortified my commitment to follow my passion. The experience of running my own business blew me away and yes, getting paid was the bonus, not the primary motivation.
I realize that not everyone has the “luxury” to choose to forgo money as the motivation for a career. However, I implore all of you reading this post to please grant yourself as much freedom to choose from your heart as is possible. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to live your passion; you can make space for any job to be motivated by listening to your heart’s call.
The day before you choose to follow your passion is the last day you will ever “work” in your life. Each day following that pivotal decision will be a respite from a life not lived to its fullest potential. The money may or may not follow, but you will be wealthy in spirit beyond measure.
How would you answer the question posed by the man at the bar? What would your life be like if you chose not to be motivated primarily by money?