What Were You Born To Do?

(Click to play 5 minute video of Tom Kelley telling a short anecdote, then read)

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
– e.e. cummings

I’m a huge fan of both personal observation and personal reflection, which is why I love this story so much.  If you haven’t watched the video all the way to the end yet, please take a few minutes to watch the whole thing – I promise you, it’s worth it.

To summarize, he talks about doing what you love – and relates a concept told to him by Jim Collins about these three circles:

  • What Are You Good At?
  • What Will People Pay You To Do?
  • What Were You Born To Do?

At the end he relates the story about how Jim spent two years observing himself, and discovered when he was happiest – and what he was born to do.

“Do what you love not because you just want to be self interested.  Do it because you’ll be better at it”
–  Francis Ford Coppola

What Were You Born To Do?

One thought I had as I was watching this video was how much the world has changed in recent years – and also, how different people like you and me are.

In Tom’s presentation he discusses how most people know what they’re good at, and how there’s a fairly efficient job market for what people will pay you to do – and he points out, the really difficult question is, what were you born to do?

I think that for most people, and  until recent years – that held absolutely true.  The generally accepted path to any kind of financial success was either to go work for a company, or to start your own business serving (primarily) local customers.  In that sense, it was easy to see what the market around you was, and if you knew what you were good at – then all that was left was to do some soul searching and decide what you were born to do, and find that sweet spot where it line up with what people would pay you to do.

A Counterpoint

I’d like to present a counterpoint though, perhaps some food for thought.

Let’s assume that you know what you’re good at, and that deep down you have a dream – a burning desire, something that you were born to do – but, as Tom explains in his example, your talents are simply not something that you have found the market will pay you to do.

I think rather than just assuming there’s no way to make money with what you were born to do, we just need to look harder for the answer.

Let’s change the question from: “What Will People Pay You To Do?” to – “How Can I Find People That Will Pay Me For What I Do?”

How Can You Find People That Will Pay You For What You Do?

One of my favorite concepts is to ask yourself – is the problem one of logic or logistics?  If there’s a flaw in the logic, then that’s a serious problem – but if the issue is logistics, then there might still be a workable solution.

The answer, of course, is you need to be able to reach those people.  If you’re in one area, and you have only a few customers in driving distance, but perhaps hundreds of thousands around the world, then the issue isn’t that there aren’t people who are willing to pay you – the issue is that we need a way of delivering value to them regardless of distance.

In this case, specifically, I think there is a workable solution:  reach more people via the internet.  As I connect with people online, I routinely come across surprising ways people are making money from their passions – from a friend who makes a living traveling the world while blogging about it, to another who writes about mountain biking, to the thousands (perhaps millions) of “mommy bloggers”, some of whom bring in substantial incomes writing about everything from their daily thoughts, to advice, to products they use and recommend.

We live in a world where Shaun White is a professional snowboarder and where Derek Sivers founded a company called CD Baby on accident that he ended up selling for $22 million dollars.  I read a story in the New York Times recently about someone who was making a living just entering video contests online, and another person who was suing collection agencies when they call him to collect money.

If You Provide Value, There Is A Market

I truly believe at this point there are very, very few things that there is no market for. The issue though, is that until very recently, it was not cost effective – there was no way to reach a market made up of individuals scattered across the globe. The internet, and recent advances in technology has changed all that.

The price, ease of set up and barrier to entry for websites and e-commerce specifically (selling goods, services or advertising online) is now staggeringly low. For something like $20 and 15 minutes of work (if you know how to do it) you can start up an online blog and business.

Getting People To Pay You For What You Do

Some people are already living the life of their dreams – getting paid to do what they love. If that’s not where you are in your life though, and if you want to know more about how to get there, then you need to check out this this page – Designing Your Dream Life.  Enter your email address on that page for a free course that goes far beyond anything I have discussed in this article.

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