Mr. Usiere Uko is the author of 'Practical Steps to Financial Freedom' and also the Organisational Capability Coordinator with Chevron Nigeria. In this article, he talks about how people can achieve financial freedom while following their passion.
Having been brought up to go to a good school, get good grades and get a good job, it may be a challenge to believe we can do what they really love, and make money doing it. We generally think in terms of getting a good job and making a good living. More often than not, what we are passionate about may not fit into our description of the best jobs in town. They are typically in the oil and gas industry, telecoms and once upon a time, the banking industry. Some jobs are attractive not for the base pay, but the perks and fringe benefits that go with them, both official and unofficial. We tend to go where the money is rather than where our passions lie and where we can make our unique contribution to society and the world at large. We start thinking about passion when the pain of job dissatisfaction finally gets to us. Passion becomes something we indulge in after work or after retirement.
Making money following your passion
I was discussing with a friend of mine, who I will call Mandy, two weeks ago. She is a safety professional with one of the oil majors. I asked her what it is she is really passionate about. She told me she loves speaking to small groups of people, especially children and youths, motivating them to go for their dreams. She is not comfortable with the term motivational speaker, but she wants to work with people to help bring out their full potential. She is currently doing this in her church anytime opportunity presents itself. As a safety professional, I knew one of her core beliefs is the possibility that we can have zero incidents. So I gently asked her if it is possible to move to a job that fits with her passion, so rather than pursue her passion part time, she will get in her area of passion full time. She paused for some moments, and then said she has never thought about it. A big smile crossed her face as she began to ponder why not? I encouraged her to give it more thought and took my leave.
If you look around you, you will begin to find people making money following their passion. In the mid-eighties, a good course was a professional course and a good job was getting into the oil and gas industry or an accounting firm like Coopers. Footballers, musicians, comedians, movie stars were all poor people who took consolation in their celebrity status. Fashion designers were called tailors and seamstresses. It was not a job for graduates. You needed to be a doctor, lawyer, banker, accountant and engineer etc to be regarded in society.
Sometime last year I watched Folake Folarin-Coker, founder of Tiffany Amber, being interviewed on the Patricia Show on MNET. The amiable talk show host asked her one interesting question: "You have such a nice name, why did you decide to use the name Tiffany Amber?"
Her answer made me laugh and almost made me cry. I could identify with the answer she gave. She is a trained lawyer, she said. She could not dare to let her dad know that after spending a fortune on her education abroad, she would turn around and 'bring shame on the family' by becoming a tailor, as fashion designers were then known to do. She had to go underground with her dreams, until it was safe it confess her "sins". It was when she made it that she allowed her folks to know that Tiffany Amber is Folake, their daughter.
Opportunities in all fields
That has since changed. People are making it big in every field of endeavor. There is nothing under the sun that you are good at, that you cannot make it big in. The challenge comes when we focus on instant gratification and what we can get rather than what we can give. The most sustainable way to receive is to keep giving. The marketplace rewards based on the value bring to it, not how much you need or can take. The easiest way to give is to do what you are really passionate about, what excites you – makes you jump up in the morning and go to bed late. When you are passionate about what you do, you have energy and enthusiasm which propels you forward to be the best that you can be. Because you love what you are doing, you do it with your whole body, spirit and soul. Nobody has to push you. You are like fish in water. You stand a better chance to keep going when the going gets tough, because you enjoy the challenge. To succeed in the marketplace, you need to keep improving and keep going when others fall by the way side. When you finally push through, the money will come in abundance, way beyond what you would get sticking to what you hate 'because the pay is good'.
The best way to turn your passion into profit is to start from where you are right now, and start to move towards where you really want to go. If you work in a big organisation, you may be able to change jobs and get assigned to a job function that is more in line with your passion. You will become better energised to make impact in your organisation, and move a step further to make impact beyond your organisation, becoming a recognised expert in that field. If that cannot work in your current organisation, you can start doing that in your spare time and begin to make impact. Pretty soon, a door will open for you to go do it somewhere else or you may choose to quit your job and follow your dreams, if you have achieved financial independence while on your current job.
One step at a time
A common mistake people make is to try and figure out how to get there before they determine the destination and commence the journey. When you look at your desired destination, it may seem like mission impossible and discourage you from taking the first step. You don't have to see the full picture before you take the first step. You don't have to wait till all traffic lights go green before you move. It does not work that way. Until you make the first move, certain things may not happen. Just like using a candle to see your way up a flight of stairs in the dark, all you need is to be on the right staircase, and to see the next step. If you take it one step after the other, you will surely get to the top. All you need is the courage and resources to take the first step.
A school teacher or university lecturer who is passionate about teaching and molding the future, loves the faculty and campus but is not happy with the pay can develop multiple streams of income by writing books, developing audio and video products, writing articles in their field, developing new learning systems and inventions among other things that will bring much more money than the salary from teaching alone. The possibilities are limitless. A lot of patents in the oil and gas industry are held by University Professors who have refused to leave academia because of the love and passion they have for teaching.
Time has proved that what you are passionate about can pay the bills and make you rich. Some folks refused to give up in the face of adversity and societal scorn and made a success of acting, music, fashion design, football, modeling, DJ, MC, security services, fast foods, transportation, mobile toilets - you name it. You can have it all. Life is too short to spend your working days working to pay your bills. Live a life of meaning and purpose. Make your unique contribution. Follow your passion and get rewarded beyond your wildest imagination.