Has anyone ever told you to “follow your passion?” Something to the tune of how everything will just work out if you stay focused on a career, goal, etc. that you’re “passionate” about? I’m betting you’ve heard that a lot when you were young and I’m sure, if you’re anything like me, it sounded like sage advice at the time. Here’s the thing: now that Ellie and I are older we think it’s totally wrong! Instead, we think everyone should be encouraged to follow opportunity.
Let’s be clear up front: this isn’t an idea we came up with ourselves (more on that later), but something that we discovered we had been doing without realizing it. I (Alex) can trace this all the way back to high school, when I opted to enroll in AP Computer Science a second year in a row since they updated the curriculum and switched from C++ to Java. Fast-forward to University and I accepted an offer to continue my freshman year internship part-time during the school year. Shortly after starting my first job after school I jumped on an opening for a temporary assignment in Washington D.C. that I transitioned into a permanent position. Finally, I took a chance on a job with a startup that introduced me to Product Management and led to the remote position I enjoy today.
Ellie can trace a similar pattern, starting shortly after her second month of medical school at Ohio State when she realized that she didn’t want to be a doctor! Instead she dropped out and worked full-time at a pharmacy for a year while applying to go to pharmacy school. During her last year of pharmacy school, she reached out and secured a non-traditional intern position at an Army clinic for one of her rotations. She returned to this same site during her residency and accepted a full-time position at the Army clinic shortly after graduation. A few years later, Army HR started to email notifications for open positions to all of their eligible civilian employees. Her quick response to one of these emails led to her acceptance of an overseas position with the Army, and we’re now living in Germany!
At some point along this journey, probably after I was already out of university, I found something that gave me my “ah ha!” moment about following opportunity instead of passion: a series of presentations by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame.
In another video, Mike comes to an even more succinct conclusion. He says, “never follow your passion, but always bring it with you”. Instead of letting passion lead you, Mike suggests that we should instead follow and prosper from opportunity, allowing ourselves to discover passion along the way. It turns out some other wildly successful people agree with Mike: billionaire Mark Cuban says, “one of the great lies of life is ‘follow your passions.'”
This blog is about embracing this idea of following opportunity and letting it lead us to prosperity, happiness, and fresh passion. We’ll discuss how this perspective has impacted our lifestyle in the past and present, and take you along on each new future adventure. We’re excited to share our journey with you and hope we inspire you to seize opportunity!