- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2003


Dear Kate & Dale: I’m discouraged by how cumbersome it is to find exactly what I should be doing for a fulfilling career. I am close to 50 and a college graduate, and I have spent my career in banking. While I believe it’s still possible to find my work passion, my husband says I have unrealistic expectations and that “there’s a reason it’s called WORK.” Any pointers? — Margot

DALE: Some of the worst advice you get is from the people closest to you — after all, they know you as what you’ve been, and tend to forget what you could become. This doesn’t mean you need a new family in order to find a new career, but it does mean that you shouldn’t expect anyone to find your path for you, or even to welcome your search for it.

KATE: Most people do not know EXACTLY what they should commit their lives to. I was one of those. I spent the first decade of my career in computer programming. Then I decided to find my “true path.” I loved horticulture and art and also ran a job-search group as a volunteer. I found all three equally satisfying. In the end, I thought I could bring more to the career field. So it was a pragmatic decision.

DALE: That’s important. You made a rational decision within the realm of emotional ones. You started with what you loved and then examined the commercial realities. Call it “practical love” or “logical passion.” We hear from a lot of people who think that because they love some endeavor, it owes them a decent living. “Do what you love and money will follow” is pixie-dust logic. Ask any poet.

KATE: Moreover, even when you choose a career that’s commercially viable, as I did, it might take a while for the love and the money to get together. My first few years were a grind. Eventually the business developed a life of its own, and I started to have fun at it and to know I’d made the right decision.

DALE: How to find such a career? Most people ask themselves what would be fun. Wrong question. I don’t know of anything that you’d want to do all day every day for fun. You know those bumper stickers, “The best day working isn’t as good as the worst day fishing”? I once interviewed a man who’d become a professional fisherman, and he couldn’t wait to retire and stop having to fish every day. The better question is “What do you want to become?” You stop searching for a perfect job and start searching for people you admire. Knowing that “you become your work,” you observe what happens to the people who do it, and see if you recognize your best self.



KATE: I’m pleased to announce that Dale has a wonderful new book that will help you in finding your best self — “The Laughing Warriors: How to Enjoy Killing the Status Quo.” It’s about people who accomplish the most by doing the most learning and laughing. They do it by directing their competitiveness — their “warrior spirit” — into finding new ways to be helpful, into what Dale calls “creative usefulness.” And speaking of helping, you can go to Dale’s Web site and either buy the hardback book or read the computer version for free. Go to www.dauten.com, then to “Books,” then scroll down and you can get a PDF version you can read on the screen, print out or e-mail to anyone who might need it. It’s terrific that the entire text is available to anyone, including those who can’t afford to buy books.

DALE: As for my selection, it’s a book called “A Knight’s Code of Business” by Gene Del Vecchio (Paramount Market Publishing, $24.95). Using “Don Quixote” quotes as a touchstone, it takes a charming look at ethics, offering advice on joining the “knighthood of character and competence.” It is another aid in finding a workplace that helps you find yourself.

* * *

Kate Wendleton is the founder of The Five O’Clock Club, a national career-counseling network (www.fiveoclockclub.com). Her books include “Targeting the Job You Want” (3rd Edition, Career Press, $13). Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators’ Lab. His latest book is “The Laughing Warriors: How to Enjoy Killing the Status Quo.” Please write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or via www.dauten.com for e-mail.

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