Sunday, June 6, 2010

A lockbox

I've been reading a book recommended by one of my blog readers by Po Bronson, and it poses a number in interesting questions for a person searching for their future. Over some of my future posts, I'll explore some of those ideas. For today, I want to talk about putting your dreams in a lockbox until you can afford to pursue them.

According to Bronson, he has seen precious few instances where a person had an underlying passion that they put off while just pursuing money, and then successfully revived that passion.

In one sense I think his observation has some great insight in it -- let's say that you wanted to become an artist, but you decided to spend a time (for argument sake -- say, ten years) in management at a public company making money so that you could afford to pursue your dream. Why wouldn't this work? I can think of three reasons:

1. While the dream is in the lockbox, getting nothing more than life-support, you don't develop your skills. Managing a team in a company doesn't help you improve your artistic skills. When you finally pull the dream out of the box again, you find that you are years behind others who have dedicated themselves to it, and you are discouraged.

2. When do you accumulate enough? Building wealth is a slippery slope. Spending tends to grow along with income, and it never quite seems like you've got enough. Ten years becomes fifteen or twenty or more, and then its too late to take the dream back out.

3. If you rub up against something every day for long enough, you start to take on the characteristics of that 'something'. You aren't a day-manager, but an artist at heart any longer -- you become the manager.

4. If you succeed in accumulating the money, you're perspective on what a successful career as an artist is, changes to a degree. You get used to the success and reinforcement from the money making, and its much harder to take the struggling and uncertainty of beginning for the start again.

While my situation is different -- my 'dream' was to be a 'captain of industry' and to build new an innovative products that would improve life for people -- I discovered that my dream was more of a fantasy than a dream. And my 'dream' was less a passion, and more intellectually motivated. That being said, the third point, that of becoming what you do, has left me in this strange place I'm in now -- the neutral zone.

I'm continuing to find the neutral zone to be a very odd place indeed, but not necessarily in the way I expected. After avoiding the knee-jerk desire to jump right back into non-introspective existence, I'm having a tough time finding what I'm really passionate about. I lived the 'dream' for so long, that it feels inseparable from me in some ways. Yet I know that it isn't a real passion, because it doesn't really come from emotion, it comes from intellect.

So I continue to try to kick back and patiently wait for passions and emotion to give me direction, but there isn't much happening yet.

1 comment:

  1. Tom

    I think over time our passions begin to harden and we become comfortable in ourselves. Being a captain of industry isn't too bad especially if you can add value to peoples lives, mentor and create some long lasting good. Sometimes you can change lives with the contact you have with your peers, subordinates and superiors in both a spiritual and secular way.

    For some of us, me included that is fulfilling a passion to contribute and make a difference while being a captain.

    Dick Sobel