Don't Discard; Overlap

I was Face-timing with one of my best friends just the other day and we were wrestling with the idea of choosing a life path. How do we decide which passion to turn into a career? Is it based on the probability of getting rich or finding "success?" Is it based on what you're best at?

If you aren't really passionate about anything, that's a different struggle altogether. But what about if you're strong in several areas? What if there are four or five different viable career paths? How do you determine which ones to cut off?

Steven Tomlinson, a coach for executives and high-tech startups, gave a fantastic TED talk on this subject at TEDxAustin. He told his story of how he was struggling to figure out which of his passions to pursue — theatre, business or seminary. To get some guidance on the question, he approached one of his professors, Will Spong. Here's what Spong told him:

This is the stupidest question anyone has asked me. You’re telling me that there are three things you love and you want me to tell you which two to cut off…so you can limp along on the other one? This is not how things work. The advice I have for you is: don’t discard. Find a way to keep all three of these things in the mix. We’ll find out [what you should do for a living]. Right now, what you do is spend 2 hours a week whole-heartedly engaged in each of those 3 things. Let them them talk to each other. Something will begin to happen in your life that is unique and powerful.
— Will Spong

While my passions are strangely different — design and education — I've found ways that they can "talk to each other." I've taken what I've learned of design thinking and applied it to the classroom to create learning environments and unique experiences that are more effective for teaching. My friend's strengths are much tighter knit allowing him to fully engage each passion and find the paths that overlap.

Though specialization was the answer to the question of career paths over the last few decades, we've entered into an age of hybrids where people aren't confined to one field of study or one skill. The internet has paved the way for cheap (often free), ubiquitous education allowing us to create jobs for ourselves that have never existed through a marriage of skills and interests.

If you're confused about your path, play with your options. Don't discard; overlap.