I recently had an opportunity to meet with high school students considering careers in the arts. It’s not hard for 17-year-old kids to tell you what they are passionate about. And, at their age, I believe in feeding that passion, let them try everything until they are certain what their thing is. Science, business and art are all the same at that point in the process of pinpointing their passion.
Next, I told them to make sure they are good at it. That could mean college or apprenticeships or a whole lot of auditioning. This is when it’s necessary to be brutally honest with themselves. Are they good at it?
Finally, can they get paid doing what they are passionate about? They shouldn’t have to answer that question too early. There are subtleties and branches in any given field that won’t be evident for many years.
Then, they should ask themselves (often!): “Do I have passion for this? Am I good at it? Can I get paid?” If the answer is consistently “yes” they have likely found the perfect career and, ideally, happiness.
Here’s the rub. Things change. So I also told them this: “If at any point in your professional life any one of those areas starts to drift; you discover you aren’t good at it because you haven’t kept up with the new technology, or you lose passion because the popular style has changed, or you’re no longer getting paid (as is the case of 1,000’s of passionate journalists and song writers), you must re-tool. You must adjust your focus until all three are true again.”
Are you passionate about this? Are you good at it? Will you get paid?
by Charles Packard, Executive Producer