Millennials get a tough ride... or do they? As one myself, i'm sensitive to the fact that we've had it better than any generation before us, but at the same time our access to information and what we could have has expanded our expectations and aspirations for ourselves. Instagram feeds, celebrity access and the notion that we can achieve anything we want has left many disgruntled and unfulfilled in what a large percentage of people across the world would deem as "luxury." There's an underlying tone of entitlement when we suggest what we'd like to achieve, and the belief that the acquisition of such a lifestyle is as simple as our ability to view it on our smartphones. My belief is that there is an integral aspect of the phrase "work your passion" that many of us ignore, and that is the "work" bit.
In my teens my passion was football. I looked at my options upon leaving school and was self-aware enough to know that, despite seeing my friends pursuing a professional playing route, i was way off the mark. I also knew i couldn't wake up everyday & do something i didn't enjoy or feel passionate about. With this in mind, prior to my last year at school i volunteered with Norwich City's community football programme all summer, 30 hours a week enthusiastically picking up cones and tying kid's shoelaces. When term came around for my final year at school, i continued assisting the full-time coaches 2-3 nights per week in the evening sessions and focused very little attention on my GCSEs. I absolutely loved helping kids learn the game and knew i could happily do this as a job. I set a goal to own my own football academy within 5 years and reverse engineered what i thougth the process would look like.
From the age of 15 to 17, i volunteered whilst completing my basic FA qualifications, watching and learning from more experienced coaches and consuming as much information as i could. I began taking my own sessions and at 18, progressed to taking my first UEFA license, the tutor telling me i was the youngest person in the country to have passed. I took a full-time job with the club and began teaching sports in schools in the daytime, then football in the evenings. I knew i had to coach more football and read that many coaches were moving to the states due to limited full-time jobs in the UK and higher salaries, and with this applied for a job in New Jersey. Turning 18 and having my first experiences of nightclubs and drinking, i knew moving to the states by myself would mean i wouldn't be able to experience being an 18 year old with my friends, but at the same time knew it would accelerate my knowledge and ability, and so with that, accepted the job.
My year in the states, where my friends back home were going to clubs, was coaching throughout the day and then staying behind after my sessions to watch the older coaches. Night times i trained myself or stayed in and read everything i could. After an amazing year, i accepted an offer to move to Mexico. I was obsessed. It was a progression which allowed me to manage a programme and work with more experienced coaches. Another year abroad, living in a sometimes dangerous city outside my comfort zone and away from friends and family, allowed me to learn enough about the business and different coaching/playing styles to move back to the UK aged 20 and open my first football academy.
In January 2011, on sheer determination and next to no money, i opened one of the UK's first Coerver Coaching performance academy franchises, competing with elements of the previous company i had worked for in my home city. It was my first business and i was working full-time on my passion. I understood what that phrase meant. To wake up everyday, doing something i loved and for myself, whilst helping local kids learn to love the game was an incredible feeling. Without the "work," the time abroad, the sacrifices, the 2 years volunteering for free and starting from the very bottom, i wouldn't of had an appreciation of the position i found myself in. The "work" made the passion possible. Coerver coaching Norfolk went on to have over 225 players training every week, with trips abroad to AC Milan and players progressing through to professional academies, whilst allowing me to give employment to my friends and learn how to run a business.
I use my story as context. So many people want to be given a job doing what they love, but are grossly unaware of how value exchange works. In order to be of value to a company, or a client, you must be able to offer value beyond their compensation for your services. Why would anyone hire someone to appease their passion? Its a bi-product. When you add value, you can charge for your service. The basis for passion as leverage lies in the fact that when you work within your passions, you will work harder and as such, be of value in order to be able to charge.
If you're passionate about something and want to do it as a job, you will go above and beyond to create an opportunity that affords you the knowledge to be in a position to charge for it, whether via an employer or your own business. If you work full-time, there is hours between when you finish and start work. If you're too young, or have no experience, volunteer. If you don't know, learn (libraries are grossly undervalued accessible resources. Books and videos contain knowledge from the best minds on the planet!) If you're hiring, you will know someone's passion as it correlates with their effort in showcasing it. It IS possible to create a lifestyle based on your passions or interests, but your passion must be in proportion to the amount of work you're prepared to put in to make it work.