Everyone has heard of the term “When life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.” That’s the standard version, the “safe” version, one that stays “inside the lines.” Recently, in a Facebook message sent from one of my good friends and colleagues I went to the UCSD accelerated Paralegal Certificate program with last spring, she offered this alternative and it’s one I really like: “When life deals you a lemon, don’t make lemonade, make lemon meringue pie!”
By way of background, our conversation centered on our respective career situations. My friend lives in Riverside County, CA., which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. She was expressing her frustration at finding the right job that suited her lifestyle and family needs and had little luck in her area. This was coming from someone whom I knew had legal experience since she had a job at one time in social services, an area she was wanting to move away from and now she was even looking at northern San Diego County for jobs. I, on the other hand, told her of my own frustrations in finding the right situation in the legal field, shortly after graduating from UCSD last June. And while I had obtained a job in the insurance industry last summer, I told her I had decided to leave it in mid-February of this year, mostly because I discovered the job required way more travel than I desired, an unstable and uncertain cash flow since it was commission-only, and what I viewed as one becoming literally 7 days a week working 10-12 hour days. Keep in mind, I’m NOT afraid of long days and have been known to be somewhat of a workaholic in my former banking career. And, just so you know what I left on the table money-wise, this job had the POTENTIAL of becoming easily a six-figure income inside of 2 years. Why? Because I wasn’t PASSIONATE about it. So now, instead of viewing it as a lemon, I choose to view it like my friend put it. I will not accept just lemonade; I’m going to make something much tastier and satisfying out of it!
One of the things we hear often is “play to your strengths.” Whoever you are and whatever situation you find yourself in, it’s not so much what you “do” that makes you PASSIONATE, it’s who you “are.” The key is opening your heart and mind, get outside the lines a little, look deep down inside yourself and evaluate what it is that brings the FIRE out in you, what gets you pumped up, what motivates you. For instance, if you love arts and crafts, wouldn’t you be more passionate about a job involving that than say, one selling insurance? An extreme example I know, but perhaps you get my point. Many times, we find ourselves in jobs that have absolutely NOTHING to do with what makes us passionate but we do them anyway because they pay well. Consequently, we end up making a horrible mess of it and likely end up miserable in the process. Here’s another example. If you ask me to prepare and cook a meal for you, chances are pretty darn good it’s going to be a disaster because I’m not particularly fond of it. On the other hand, if you ask me to clean up all the dishes after YOU’VE prepared an elaborate four-course meal, using nearly every dish and utensil at your disposal, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t hesitate for a second! Furthermore, I can also guarantee you those dishes will be spotless! Why? Because anyone who knows me well, also knows I LOVE doing dishes. Strange I know, but true!
At this point, I’d like for you to scroll through the “Ramblings” chapters and read the one called “Passion” I wrote on May 17th, 2010. In that particular piece, I briefly described my life as it was then and still is today. I’m passionate about many things but the one I’m most interested in is helping others through what I’ve learned as the result of a life time of experiences, but primarily and most importantly, those that I’ve learned over the past few years. The question is, how? It begins here. Right here in this blog, in writing. And with numbers. Oh, how I love crunching numbers. Even as a young boy, I can recall sitting at the kitchen table with my father and his insurance agent while they were discussing some of the figures my father’s agent was tallying on his calculator. While he was doing that, I was busy adding them up BY HAND and could come up with the same figure as he could in the same amount of time it took him to add it on his little machine. Of course, in later years, this gift served me well in my banking career and in operating and managing the family farm alongside my father. It was during those years I discovered the other gift God gave me. Writing. I was well-known among my banking peers for comprehensive and well-thought out loan narratives. I left nothing to chance and usually, there were few questions when I was done.
Today then, I’ve had an epiphany of sorts. With the God-given gifts of writing and with the ability to “see” numbers, I envision new opportunities. Of course, given the paralegal training in hand, contract law administration comes to mind as an obvious choice or even perhaps as a professional fiduciary, one who is court-appointed to handle the financial affairs of the elderly or disabled for instance. But, there’s another and it’s one I’ve only recently discovered. There are a number of organizations and entities all scrambling for money in order to continue operating and growing in a difficult economy as we have now. Those entities have the ability to access money through the form of federal or state grants but usually don’t have the staff expertise to go after it. That’s it! Writing proposals for these entities in obtaining grants! It also involves formulating and presenting detailed financial information to go along with the written proposal. What better way to utilize these two strengths God has bestowed upon me?
Find YOUR “Passion” then. Evaluate yourself honestly. Determine what it is that brings the fire out in you. Then do it. Even if it’s doing dishes. As for myself, I will continue moving forward in an attempt to help my fellow man with the gifts God has already given me, EVEN IF it means it doesn’t pay (or promise to pay) six figures like the job I recently left. Whether it’s in grant writing, a situation in contract law, becoming a professional fiduciary, or even a life coach, it doesn’t matter. As long as I focus on my strengths and “play to them”, chances are pretty good I’ll do well. Same goes for you, just find out what your “Passion” is and make lemon meringue pie out of those lemons life throws at you!