Can you imagine any more perfect job for someone who sounds like a Disney Princess, than being a kids’ dental hygienist? What child isn’t going to listen and obey when Cinderella tells them to open wide, or floss better?
I suppose she could have chosen to do voice-overs, or acted as one of the princesses at Disneyland. Certainly she would have been hired. I’ve never met anyone with quite that sort of lovely, sing-songy voice (outside of a theme park). And yet… rather than the obvious, this young woman chose a dental career.
In an NPR program I heard once there was a student who felt he was a generalist, without any sort of specific passion. He inspired a team of economists to model the best way to choose a career. (I know I’m Supposed To Follow My Passion. But What If I don’t Have A Passion?)
“In the end, the three economists did not advise Max to pursue some particular career path. They didn't even give very specific advice. But they did all agree that Max's lack of a passion could work to his advantage. Pursuing a passion — especially if it's a popular passion — often doesn't pay very well” (Chana Joffe-Walt – Morning Edition, May 9, 2013)
Right now, as many graduates leave high school for college or college for work, the question remains, what should I do? Assuming that there is only one right answer is part of the problem. What motivates us when we are young is not necessarily the same thing that motivates us when we are older. But I disagree with the economists on NPR… I believe passion comes from aligning our unique talents, the strengths that make us who we are, and our interests. This passion won’t give us a career, but it will provide the inspiration, the fuel, for a well lived life.
I’d love to be able to wave a magic wand to help people identify what these strengths are. Sadly, I’ve never been very good at magic. Instead I have found identifying strengths takes hard work. It takes a willingness to try and fail at many different things. It also helps to have access to a great career counselor, many now have career tools which incorporate not only what you are good at, but also what motivates and interests you.
Perhaps next time I visit the dentist I will check with the hygienist to see which career counselor she used. Either they were very good at their job or she was lucky enough to be blessed with a very talented fairy godmother.