A Leader’s Mistake: Uninspiring the soon-to-be college graduates

I participated in a couple of career panels talking to college students, just done virtually, on Zoom due to COVID. After getting over the fact, you just can never look good on a Zoom call, I felt proud that I participated and was encouraged that the future, left in these student’s hands, will be amazing! A common theme in both discussions was: do what you are passionate about. When most of us started, we did what we were told to do and worked where we were needed. But, the jobs that gave us the biggest personal rewards were the ones we were passionate about.

The message sounds great, right? But, then the kicker hit – a career government person reminded me why I left. Paraphrasing, she recapped, “that most of us spoke about a common phrase – passion. But, do not let that be the only thing you look for. We all come out of school wanting to save the world but we do not.”

What?? I thought about that later and I wish I came up with a rebuttal, right then. The benefit of college grads is that they have passions and energy! These generations have lived through financial crises and seen human brutality in many forms. They are ready to make a difference!

If I could do that segment of the meeting again, I would say:

  1. Each person was born with a purpose – things unique to you that you are passionate about.
  2. In your career, you will navigate through life defining your passions.
  3. Look for an employer that you can strike a balance of working for them and they will invest in you (mentor, education, conversation, etc).
  4. It is a flag when you are told to put your dreams aside. Over time, the energy and passion will die.
  5. As you define your passions, do not forget them. Keep updating your goals and strike a balance with your current situation and aiming for your goals.

Why do I think that is so important? Life is too short to be miserable and unfulfilled.

I also know that if Frederick Smith listened to his professor who gave him a C, we wouldn’t have FedEx packages delivering our boxes in quarantine. Arianna Huffington founded Huffington Post after being dropped from the BBC at the age of 30. Each one of these people ran into life challenges and fought through discouragement, but followed their passions.

To all people at every stage of your career: Let your passions drive you. There will always be challenges and you will have to redefine yourself a billion times – but it is worth it.

What are you passionate about? What do you want to do? EverWatch-ACES asks these two questions in their interviews and looks for the passion in the responses. If no one asks you those two questions, please answer them for yourself.

Your thoughts?

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