Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow.
How many times have you read this encouraging statement? Do you believe that if you give yourself to something you’re passionate about, the money will trail along behind? I do, basically, but would add this caution: before you plunge into a venture, determine exactly what you really love about it.
I often think of the cartoon where Charlie Brown accuses Lucy of not loving her fellow man. Her reply is a classic. “I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.” Therein lie a lot of broken dreams.
These musings spring from a discussion I had lately. The question being pondered was, “Should we write because we love to share our thoughts with the world – and abandon all thought of profit? Or should we concern ourselves with the bottom line?” My question is, how much does understanding myself contribute to the success of my venture?
Let’s say Sammy just forked out $4k and bought himself a brand new Whizgizmo. So easy to operate! You just plug it into a standard outlet, attach the tubes to your faucet, flip the switch, and it purifies the air, detoxifies the water, and air-conditions your house all in one operation. Wow!
Sammy’s thrilled with it; his atmosphere is 75% healthier now. Then the salesman drops in with more filters and a suggestion. “Why don’t you start selling Whizgizmos, Sam? The start up costs are minimal, only $5000 for a sales kit and territory. And there’s a 50% commission: on every $4000 sale you get to keep $2000. Why, I gross $50k a year.”
Sammy’s eyes light up. He adores his Whizgizmo. He LOVES the thought of making two grand on every sale. He envisions financial independence, trips to Hawaii. So he puts down the $5k and signs on as agent. With his hearty endorsement of the product, over the next few months Sammy sells a few gizmos to relatives and a couple to guys at work. Then he stalls – because Sammy does not like knocking on doors. Like Lucy, Sammy loves mankind – in theory. But in reality he does best with people he knows; approaching complete strangers, especially as a salesman, just isn’t his thing.
Ten years ago we decided to move out of the city and talked of putting our house up for sale. We were even toying with the idea of selling it ourselves and pocketing the agent’s commission. Why not? Other folks were. A few mornings later the phone rang: a realtor was calling, saying they had buyers interested in purchasing a place in our neighborhood. Were we considering selling sometime?
My husband and I talked it over and decided to let this agent do the selling. After all, he was experienced with sales and all the paperwork; he knew the market value of our home. And we thought his timing seemed so perfect – divinely arranged even. He told us later that he didn’t often do “cold calling” – just dialing up homeowners in a given area and asking if they were wanting to sell. He was quite pleased that it paid off for him so well this time.
A person may love looking through and appraising homes. He may love the real estate market in general, or be very fond of the commissions. He may love the dream of making good money and retiring in the best part of town. But if he isn’t willing to call and visit with complete strangers, the money won’t follow.
I understand that if someone wants to be a farmer they have to love growing things and accept the risks involved. A true farmer can watch hailstones pound his wheat into the ground, sigh, then plan what he’s going to seed in that field next year. A fellow may love the dream of having his own farm, but if he lacks the resilience to bounce back from crop failures and market fluctuations, the money may not follow.
I remember one Grade Ten teacher. Perhaps he’d been in love with the ideal of teaching, impressing young minds, etc. Maybe the job security impressed him, or a teacher’s pay scale, but he had no rapport with students. He hoped/imagined we were eager to learn – that we’d gladly study and do our lesson exercises while he wandered off to the staff room. Or else he just couldn’t face real teens. Teachers need a genuine love of children that carries them through even when students are obnoxious and no teacher can drive a speck of learning into their heads.
Likewise I may love the idea of writing for teens, the concept of telling great stories or producing more wholesome reading for teens. I can love the dream of being an author with fans raving over my books.☺ But if I don’t have a good rapport with real teen readers, if I don’t like research or reading teen fiction myself, if I balk at spending those hours in front of the computer and hate editing, procrastination will follow rather than money.
I believe we should do what we love and trust it will work – but take the time first to assess just what it is about this project we’re enthused about. Are we committed to the whole picture or only the ideals? Do the daily tasks involved appeal to us or is it mostly the dream of financial success we see? Do I have this fire burning inside me or am I depending on the enthusiasm of family, customers, or students to keep me going?
Do I love mankind but avoid talking to strangers? How have I handled rejection in the past? Can I — am I willing to — make the necessary changes in my basic personality to make this thing work? Do truthful friends encourage me or admit they can’t really see me doing this?
It seems a little from-the-heart reflection beforehand could save us a major disappointment – like the money NOT following.