Creative encouragement and following passion

Over lunch at the Craft Burger at Yonge and Bloor, Stephen Brickell and David Ing gave me advice about life, careers, and all sorts of other great things. (I’m such a lucky newbie!) Here’s a story from that conversation that I knew I just had to share with others.

Photo (c) 2007 grendelkhan (Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.0 License)

Stephen told me about the advice he had recently given Philip, his 18-year-old son. Philip had initially thought of taking engineering in university, probably because that was what he felt his parents wanted him to do. Stephen and his wife reminded their son that while they were happy to give advice, it was ultimately Philip’s decision, and he should take full responsibility for it. Stephen also shared how people who find and follow their passion end up doing much better than people who just focus on the money.

After a lot of consideration, Philip realized that he was really interested in horticulture. He worried that he’d regret taking horticulture instead of a more promising (and lucrative) career. What if he made a mistake and it wasn’t his passion after all? He didn’t feel that it wasn’t a university-type course, and he knew that his parents strongly wanted him to go to university.

Stephen told him that with global warming and other changes, food is going to become even more important – and an expertise in horticulture could very well be a way to make money. He also encouraged Philip to keep an eye out for opportunities to connect studies, entrepreneurship, and other things. For example, Philip enjoyed the culinary arts course he took in high school, and he could combine that with horticulture and entrepreneurship by growing restaurant-quality herbs in a greenhouse.

What I liked was the creative encouragement that Stephen gave. We’ve all heard advice to “do what you love and the money will follow,” but Stephen went one step further and helped Philip imagine concrete ways to make money doing what he loves.

What if Philip made a mistake and horticulture wasn’t what he really loved to do? Stephen reassured him that even if it was a perfect fit for him now, there’s still a chance that he’ll change his mind, grow out of it, or discover something new–and that’s okay. When that happens, Philip can just figure things out again. (And he might be surprised at how much of his skills he can transfer over to whatever new field he becomes interested in!)

I liked the way that Stephen made it clear that it’s okay not to figure everything out the first time around, and that life is about continuous learning.

What about university? Stephen said that he wanted his son to attend university because it would expand his mind. That said, Philip could go to university later, or take a business degree, or learn about all of these things later. Horticulture seemed to be a better fit at the moment, and the credits that Philip could earn there would be recognized by partner schools.

I liked the way that they had clearly thought out reasons for university, but they weren’t tied to the convention of university immediately after high school.

I’m glad Stephen shared that story with me. I asked him right away if I could share it with others, and he was happy to agree. There are a lot of interesting things in that story that I’d like to learn how to do well, particularly when it comes to encouraging others to find their passions and create opportunities.

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  • Raymond Zeitler

    That is a great story. Even if Philip does have a knack for engineering, he might be able to apply that within the framework of horticulture by improving irrigation systems and environmental controls. A lot of what’s taught in engineering is theoretical. It’s not hard for someone with passion to pick up the applied concepts in much less than four years.

    Even better is the support Philip’s parents give him and how they take the pressure off by telling him not to try to figure it all out at once.

    Also, this story ties in wonderfully with my reading of “The Renaissance Soul.” ;) I’m still trying to figure it out!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Great story and especially helpful reminders for people with their own children (like me).

  • Part of the human experience is ability to reflect on history, and exercise insights into the future. The challenge is discerning whether the future will or will not be like the past.

    It’s probably a case where associating with a curmudgeon could get you into trouble, but insight from trusted sources is valuable as wisdom.

    You might prefer an alternative, more humourous view of curmudgeons.

  • The future is never quite like the past. The more I learn from others, the more I recognize what I’d like my future to be, and the more tools I have for shaping the future and helping others make things happen. =)

  • Nice story.. The insights really helped me in making the major decision of a career shift.

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  • I dont know what to say sacha, it hit the mark for my current situation. thanks a million for sharing.

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