What are your guiding principles?

photo by MumbleyJoe 

In the place where you live
Now face north
Think about direction
Wonder why you haven’t before
Now stand
In the place where you work
Now face west
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before

REM – Stand

I had an interesting discussion today where the question was asked to me:

“If you could make $100,000 a year just for giving this type of presentation 5 times a week – would you be interested?”

(As a side note, this type of presentation was a reference to a network marketing type of product – I didn’t get all of the details, but it looked cleaner than some, but ultimately involved selling to friends, acquaintances and contacts).

Have you ever thought about what you do for a living and the money you make?

Just a guess, but if you’re like most people, you’ve at least considered it.

What would your answer to that question be?

Before I answered, I gave it some thought and…wait, I should back up just a bit and give some background…

What do you want to do?

I have probably spent more time on the topic of ‘What do you want to do with your life’ than most people.

By the way – great book on this topic is What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson.  He does a fascinating review of hundreds of people that have made significant life changes and presents dozens of them as individual case studies on how people have approached this issue and what their outcomes were.

The coolest part of the book is that although you can draw some broad conclusions, there’s more than enough diverse material to inspire lots of great discussions and thoughts.  It would have been much easier to lead to a simple conclusion (i.e. do what you love and the money will follow) but this paints a much more complete and realistic picture.

Anyway – as I was saying, I’ve given this a lot of thought in the last 4 or 5 years and although I haven’t reached any amazing epiphanies (one of the coolest words ever…!) or really even reached solid conclusions on what I should be doing, I have discovered a few guiding principles that I think are pretty important:

1.  Be yourself.

I’m sure this doesn’t qualify as groundbreaking news, but it is an important lesson that I wish I had really applied earlier in life.  I spent a fair amount of time doing things because I felt like I needed to chase an arbitrary definition of a career.

Don’t do that – figure out what’s important to you as a person and then figure out how to reflect that priority in what you do.  It’s about you, not your parents, your family, your friends, it has to be about you.

2.  Spend time with people you enjoy and that can help you grow.

I don’t think that I can overstate how important this is.

Life is way too short to spend any of it with people that bring you down.  People can do amazing things if they believe they can do amazing things – the importance of a positive mindset, some confidence and a little help along the way can make a huge difference.

If you suspect that you’re hanging out with people that are negative, try a new crowd for a while and see if your perspective improves.  If it’s you that’s negative, find some books, join some groups do something to get past that, because it’s poison.

3.  It’s never about the money.

This is the one that I really screwed up on.  It may not be true for everyone, but for me I’ve learned the hard way that it can’t be about the money.

As soon as it’s about the money, then everything else is going to fall by the wayside.  I’m not saying that money isn’t important, I’m saying that it can be the overriding reason for doing what you do.

Having said that, I know a lot of people that are content to get their time in and save their interests and passions for the weekends.  I did that for quite a while and it didn’t work for me.

So what would you say?

Back to the question at hand – I thought about it very briefly and answered “No. –  I wouldn’t be interested, even if the money was great and this really was a legitimate opportunity.” 

For where I’m at now, it’s more important to find something I can get excited about.  Yes I want to make money but the primary driver is doing something I believe in – and although I don’t have it all figured out just yet, I truly enjoy helping people grow their business and be more successful.

I think for most successful business owners, there has to be an element of interest / desire / passion lighting the way for where they want to go.  The hours are too long, the work is too hard if you don’t have some sort of guiding principle to keep you moving forward.

Could you trade that in for a steady paycheck and a lot less interesting (and less stressful) work?  Understandably it happens all the time.

What would you do if you were offered a job doing something uninspiring but paid well?  Share your thoughts here – I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade    www.aspirekc.com