You Need to Do What You Love

Many students are involved in summer internships right now, so it’s worth taking a moment to learn this lesson from our elders: focus on work for its intrinsic value more than for external rewards.

Marty, 71, had a very satisfying work life as an engineer and entrepreneur. But he exhorts younger people to think about success not in terms of money, and gives you some important questions to ask yourself about your career.

Earning money seemed to be how they measured a success when we were young. Some people went to college but most people went to work, they got a job and went to work so everything revolved around: What are you earning?  What are you making? And so the more money you made the more successful you were.

And that became more important than: What should I do with my life? What do you want to develop? What do you want to learn?’  But by learning and experiencing that part of your life, you’re going to be doing something you like doing,  that you want to do, and money follows. Money follows. That’s the way it works.

And if money doesn’t follow, you’re doing something you like anyway. So it was like when I was a kid, down the street we had a shoemaker, a father with his kids and they did the shoes, leather soles and stuff. They were a pretty cool family. They loved working there and they loved making shoes and fixing shoes. So there’s ways to be happy without having to be this big-shot corporate guy.

3 thoughts on “You Need to Do What You Love

  1. We often hear about famous careers beginning in a garage.

    My father earned his HS diploma at 33 after being forced to quit school at 14 to earn money for his family during the depression. He never stopped loving learning and among his proudest “achievements” was watching all five of his kids graduate college. Both of my parents instilled in us a sense of joy in life’s simple pleasures, like shared meals. My dad’s career “peaked” at managing a warehouse ,when he retired, he and my mother true to form, discovered new purpose. They established a tiny food-sharing program one Christmas out of their initiative to help a neighbor. In following years they began to seek names of different families in need. They coordinated it all on index cards, and sorted and stored the foods in their garage. 25 years later their spark of generosity has conintued to blossom into a community-wide effort that gives two large baskets of food to different families in need (600 last year) over the holidays. The benefit of even a few of those families perhaps one day “paying it forward” is beyond measure. Career issues pale in comparison. I am so honored to have been raised by non-career, non-degree carrying, yet wise and compassionate parents in such an atmosphere of love in action. The feeling one gains in serving others (even if only occasionally) is fulfilling well beyond any status one can achieve. The difference between career and true “success” is like dining alone in a 5 star restaurant compared to sharing in a home-made meal with family or friends. The former may impress a few, but the latter sustains all.

  2. John,
    Thanks so much for sharing these lessons! One point you make in particular is going to stay with me: “The difference between career and true “success” is like dining alone in a 5 star restaurant compared to sharing in a home-made meal with family or friends.” That’s a great way to sum up the need to place people and experiences over things.

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