Gabe sought passion in his work yet; he didn’t have words to describe what he really wanted. A part-time musician and accountant, he felt stuck in his career. “I’m just an accountant. I don’t see anything special in my work,” Gabe lamented. “Be yourself, I suggested. “Passion, and the life you want, will find you.”
“How will passion find me?” Gabe asked.
I smiled. “Gabe, can you recall a time in your life when you were excited about your work? Maybe you felt you were in the flow? When this happened, did hours pass like minutes? At that time, when you finished what you set out to do, did you want to repeat the activity? Can you name what you were passionate about at that time?
“Hmm, that’s difficult,” Gabe, said. “I want to discover my passions, but I don’t know where to begin.”
I leaned toward Gabe, “When we don’t know is a good place to start. May I share a story that might help you define your career?” Gabe nodded and settled back in his chair to listen.
“I’ve searched to define my musical genre. Like you feel you are ‘just an accountant,’ I felt I was more than just a musician. Standard classifications, such as folk, rock, country, jazz, blues, soul, and an endless list of other categories musicians use to name what they create, did not apply to my music. My piano instructor described my songs as, ‘your music.’
“A couple of years ago I published my first album. I was given a list of genres by iTunes. ‘Your music’ wasn’t on the list. It was difficult for me to name what I created because I couldn’t identify what makes my music unique until I named the parts of my music that gave me joy. When I’m in the flow and I compose my best work, I’m passionate. When I’m passionate, I’m bold. At that moment I realized that my musical genre is Engelbert Humperdinck meets Deep House.”
“Ha!” Gabe exclaimed. “You are a crooner with electronic dance music. How did you come up with that?”
“Simple,” I answered. “Sometimes we can name the whole of what we do when we name the parts. So, I began with the vocal part of my music. Engelbert is a lounge style singer from the late 1960’s. His music, vocal range, and love songs are similar to his contemporary, Tom Jones. Engelbert is known for his elongated, mellow toned vowels. When I sing at my best, my voice emulates Engelbert’s.”
Gabe leaned into the conversation. “Okay - for me, it’s not enough to say I’m just an accountant. Like your music, I’m more than that. So, if I name what I do best in my career, the parts of my work that give me passion, as you describe it, such as assisting a client with a problem, then I’ll know what parts of my career are destined for me?”
“Yes, you are a problem solver, in your example. That’s one part of you that brings forth your passion. Gabe, may I continue?”
“Here’s the other part of my discovery. Deep House is today’s version of House Music, originally performed in a warehouse in Chicago in the 1980s. Deep House is also known as ‘Chill Music.’ It includes extended chords (7ths, 9ths, and 11ths) instead of standard triad chords. Deep House melodies have an ambient, unrelated feel similar to jazz that suggests to listeners to chill out.”
“Gabe, once I gained confidence to name the parts of what I passionately create, and boldly combine them into a new description, no matter how crazy it sounds, my music no longer felt like a mish-mash of unrelated chords and notes. With a name for the parts of my music I realized that I have a unique identity for the whole of what I create.”
“I get it,” Gabe exclaimed. “Name the parts of what I love in my accounting career when I perform at my best. Similar to iTunes, I don’t need standard definitions to determine who I am. If I name the parts of my career that generate my passions, then my future is unlimited. The job, career, and life that’s right for me, just like your music, will find me, if I just be me.”
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a coach, musician, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.