On The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received

Posted by Steve Kleber on Mar 15, 2011

Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest On The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received


Today’s post is a response to a Let’s Blog Off topic written by Trey Hoover, who is currently interning with K&A. For additional perspectives on the best advice ever received, check out these other responses to Let’s Blog Off.

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of future I wanted, what kind of career path I should take, and what kind of life I wanted to lead. I think this is pretty normal thing to go through; faced with a new chapter in your life, you start to think about all the potential that the future holds: what you can achieve, what you want to achieve, who you’ll be, etc. I have always been very success-driven, and I was just as much afraid of failure as I was hungry for success. After talking with my parents, they told me something that’s really helped give me direction:

“Just do what you love,” they said, “and everything else will fall into place.”

It may not be strikingly profound for a lot of people, but for me it’s exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes it’s just so easy to focus on what you want to achieve and lose focus on how you want to get there. I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who coined the phrase, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I can’t be the only person who needs to hear that from time to time. In a world where everyone is multi-tasking, it’s important to step back and regain focus. You can spend your whole life chasing after what you don’t have, and you will never be happy. On the other hand, if you refocus your life around doing what you love, things become much more rewarding.

I realize that stamp collecting is not a viable career path for most people, especially parents who likely feel a lot of stress to provide for their family. Still, I’m pretty confident that just about anything, given the right spin, can be made into a viable lifestyle. The key to success is passion. A talented person with no interest is not going to perform at the same level as someone with little talent who loves what he’s doing. The simple truth is that many of us need to work a lot—perhaps to the point where work dominates our lives. If all of that time is spent doing something we hate, we let the joy of life get zapped from us. Aspiring artists often tend to give up their dreams in exchange for something more practical. The common train of thought seems to be, “I’ll never become successful this way, so I should settle on something more practical.” I’m telling you though, that with enough innovation, anything can be made into a viable career, it just may not be the obvious choice.

For me, I decided I wanted to go into business. I’m a second year undergraduate student at the Ohio State University, studying marketing. I landed on marketing when I realized I could use it as a productive outlet for my creativity. I still have a lot to learn about business and life in general, but I’m taking every opportunity I can find to get better. As I write this, I’m wrapping up an internship with Kleber & Associates, a marketing agency in Atlanta. In just a few weeks, I’ve learned a lot of things about the business world and the day-to-day challenges of marketing. It may not seem like a dream job, but for me it’s a great fit. Little steps like these bring us closer to our dreams. I’m not saying that you’ll find your calling right away; this isn’t about willing something to happen. Many of the directions we want to take our lives require a lot of ambition to get there. With enough passion and cognizance, virtually anything is achievable with time. Sometimes, just trying to get where you want to go is as much of a reward as getting there, too. Life is a journey, right?

Just do what you love! Find something that makes you happy and think of a way you can use it to provide value for other people. It may take some creativity, but I’m positive there’s something out there. Once you’ve found what you love, work stops being work. People can tell when you love your job, and you will certainly feel the difference it makes on other aspects of your life. If you work a full-time job of 40 hours a week, every week from about the age of 25 to 60, you’ll have worked about 67,200 hours by the time you retire. Don’t settle. Don’t spend your life doing something that makes you miserable. Take what you love, find a way to use it and enjoy your life, because you only get one.

This entry was posted by Steve Kleber on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 at 9:33 am and is filed under Miscellaneous. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  1. Saxon Henry says:

    I am a firm believer in the work-as-play premise, too (your way of putting it is right-on “Once you’ve found what you love, work stops being work.”). So great to read the advice that inspired you!

  2. You are so right to say that passion is important and dare I say that the older you become the more you realize what that passion is.

  3. Nice post, Trey. It’s right along the lines of a favorite quote by Po Bronson,
    “Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerous. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever.”

    Words to live by, especially when 67,200 hours are at stake!

  4. Rufus Dogg says:

    Hold onto that. Hold on tight. And remember that “work/life balance” was invented by someone who was not happy with his work part of the equation. This will be used against you by people who don’t understand your passion. There is no such thing as a separation of work and life. When you have a passion you are engaged in, work is life. Those without passion will never understand that.

  5. Trey Hoover says:

    Thanks for all the nice comments, guys. You make a good point too, Denese. It’s far too easy to get trapped doing something because of all the pressure that exists in life. I think a lot of people who think they can’t do what they love end up working to just put food on the table, often for a family. It’s pretty sad, really. And then those who are successful still aren’t happy. The craziest thing is that it seems money is a terrible incentive for productivity. I keep reading articles like this one, http://www.techdirt.com/blog/entrepreneurs/articles/20100305/1907278449.shtml that suggest money is a very ineffective motivator long-term. I believe I’ve read about some Asian cultures that, by emphasizing honor and achievement through other forms of recognition, have seen much better results. Do you think something like that is really even possible in the culture we’ve developed?