I love the idea of finding my “thing” – a sweet spot in which I function beautifully, enjoy my work and into which I can happily sink myself for the rest of my life.
That kind of contentment sounds nice, doesn’t it?
We’re normally first introduced to the idea of our “thing” when people start asking us annoying questions like “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.
The reason it’s annoying is that we don’t really know the answer. We have an idea of the amazing, exciting or fascinating but the subtle nuance of career choices mostly eludes us as young people. But with such a common and innocent question there comes a sinister downside too – why do we need to choose?
The concept of having a “thing” is mostly preposterous to young children, until we train them to have that idea. We tell them things like “you can’t be good at everything” and gently limit their choices to the things that they seem to be naturally more talented at.
But is that really the best way to do things?
Why is it necessary for us to have a thing? Why do we need to focus so heavily on one thing that we inevitably exclude the others? And how are we teaching our children the joy of exploration and experimentation* in a world with infinite possibilities?
*not the bad kind
For me this is a very personal issue. I’ve always been naturally OK at lots of stuff, but nothing has ever really twigged as the single, solitary thing that I should spend my entire life on. And I’m not sure that anything ever will, especially at the ripe old age of 37 as I currently am.
So what’s the deal? Should we spend hours, days, weeks trying to find that “thing” which will keep us inspired and active for our entire lives? Or can we accept that each of us are more than a single-purpose entity?
When I say “accept” I don’t just mean nod, smile and say “of course, Chris – we’re very complicated aren’t we?”. No, I mean we need to accept it in the way we behave, the way we speak, the way we teach, the way we encourage those around us.
We might have our main gig – a job, a hobby, a family, a calling – but all of us are capable of more than dedication to a single skill.
Think more of yourself, and of each other. Because our capacity for achievement is great.