Schools don’t foster it. Most parents advise against it. Corporations crush it.
Passion, often, unfortunately, ranks as an optional side dish on the buffet of life. If you can find a job that provides the staple meat and potatoes, lucky you. Dessert, or feeling passionate and fulfilled by what you do, adds a nice touch if you can get it — but is definitely not necessary.
In ECOpreneuring, my wife and I write about going for dessert first (we’ve also been known to start at the back of a menu at a restaurant and work forward). Identify your passion and build your work, your business, your life around that which makes your toes tingle. A reverse perspective to the normal career path, we realize. It took us almost a decade of soul-searching, global travel and life-changing experiences — both positive and negative — before we started to unearth the human beings we were deep down inside, our core that represented our heartfelt passions, reflected our values and our Earth Mission that guides our life. Partner your passion with small business and satisfaction blooms far richer than just dollars of a paycheck.
Ecopreneuring stems from a paradigm shift in how we approach a career and how we define livelihood. Like nature, we thrive on interdependence while aspiring to a greater degree of self-reliant independence — the ability to make it on our own in a supportive community. This shatters the prideful image of a generation ago where the “company” would “care” for you and your family after you retired.
Think independent and multidimensional: a Portfolio Perspective. Look at your life as multidimensional; Different rather than just one paycheck coming from one job, have a range of income-generating sources. Different elements contribute to fulfillment and satisfaction. If one project disappeared, you’d still have others. One interest fuels ideas or business leads in another area. Like a diversified stock portfolio, by having multiple income sources stemming from your passions, your livelihood provides multiple benefits. A Portfolio Perspective also provides the opportunity to integrate and overlap these interests intelligently and strategically, using business deductions effectively. Such a shift fundamentally alters the historic perspective separating your “job” from your “leisure” activities. Your job earns you money to pay for your leisure interests. What if you love photography or helping people savor healthy and locally grown food? Why not make that part of your livelihood?
Another paradigm shift comes from the slick image of big business that society spoon-fed us since childhood. Big is better. Big can do more. No thanks, say many ecopreneurs, embracing the power of small business and realizing the potential in becoming a “Mosquito Business.” Debunking the notion that bigger is better, Mosquito Businesses use their leanness and small size to their competitive advantage. Less baggage equals the ability to fly, to quickly — and often more cost-effectively — maneuver to make something happen, often beneath the radar. And if anyone still needs convincing that small can be powerful and effective, try spending the night with a mosquito in your tent.
Tree Your Passions
Trade the visual of career “track” for a “tree.” A track gets you from point A to B, “assistant account executive” tracks to “senior account executive.” No opportunities for detours. You must choose and stick to one direction. But like a tree, we humans need to stretch and grow in a variety of directions. Some branches grow tall and strong while others may hold back or even wither and crack and die off. The same process applies to our interests, as we keep diversified while rooted to the same trunk or shared core values and visions.
Look to your past experiences for skill sets and tools to craft your ecopreneur business and lifestyle. Most likely, this next chapter in your life ranks as an “Emerald Encore,” not your first job experience but rather a new direction stemming from your past experiences. We bring past experiences, history and personal knowledge to this new chapter in our life that can enhance and strengthen us as ecopreneurs. No need to feel guilty or ashamed about former career paths — say us, two former corporate advertising clones.
Instead, look to being an ecopreneur as the opportunity to make an encore, to regain the stage and leave a final, lasting impression that satisfies and makes you proud. The most prized of gems, the emerald gains its value, its uniqueness, from its rarity. Likewise, your Emerald Encore will contribute to your legacy, the lasting positive impact you want to create in this world.
Are you celebrating an Emerald Encore, or operating a Mosquito Business? How’s it going?
Photo Credit: aussiegall at Flickr (under a Creative Commons license)