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Phil Wickenden: Service should come ahead of profit

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It is fair to say we live in a society that reveres the “Steve Jobs perspective”. Who or what are the arbiters of fairness I have no idea so apologies if I have not pursued the appropriate channels nor engaged the relevant authorities.

Anyhow, Apple boss Steve Jobs told us that if you do what you love, the money will follow. We have been encouraged to believe that, if you find your passion, world-changing success will magically come. It has been decreed (probably by the aforementioned fairness arbiters) that if you are not changing the world in dramatic ways it is because you are too afraid to find your passion and follow it.

All of which is lovely material for self help-type seminars and goodness knows I have been to a fair few of them over the years.

Advisers we interviewed recently stated unanimously that what they love most about their role is the client relationship element, as discussed last week. 

When asked “If there were no limits, what would you love to have accomplished in 10 years’ time?” nearly 60 per cent said “Increased assets under management,” which feels somehow less of a dazzling, world-changing vision.

But that is just a guilt trip laid down by people paid to peddle that sort of garb and it ignores the magic of some of the small, unnoticed things that happen along the way of any journey. 

Here are a few reasons why:

1. Most gifted people do not have a single over-riding passion.And that is fine. Far better to have awareness of, and be comfortable with, this fact than to concoct a false one in order to be OK.

2. The money simply may not follow. “I am a writer but I love sex more than I love writing,” author Penelope Trunk observed a few years ago. “And I am not getting paid for sex… But I don’t sit up at night thinking ‘Should I do writing or sex?’ because career decisions are not about ‘What do I love most?’ Career decisions are about what kind of life I want to set up for myself.”

3. Steve Jobs did not follow his own advice. If he had pursued his life-long passion, Jobs would have become a Zen teacher. Instead, he meandered barefoot as a dilettante through early adulthood, lacked follow-through and stumbled accidentally into technology, management and marketing.

Our desires and passions should not always be master of ceremonies in our lives. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can.

Phil Wickenden is founder of So Here’s the Plan – phil@soherestheplan.com

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