Funding your Present to Find your Passion

Richard Hytner, former Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and founder of creative management consultancy beta baboon, gives some valuable advice on personal purpose.

The recent blog by Madeleine on Mozart revealed a shocking thought. "Apparently", Titanium Tutors Assistant Manager concluded, "Mozart didn’t particularly like tutoring". Surely it was a close call for young Amadeus? Do I kick on and become a world-class tutor, or should I continue to knock out a few tunes and see where that leads me? Happily for quite a few aspiring pianists, he hedged his bets.


Like the upstart wannabe composer, some of today’s university graduates see tutoring as a way to fund their passion. Probably more of them use tutoring income to fund the time it takes to find their passion. In this respect, they are no different to many of the people I encounter in our own work at beta baboon. They are just a lot younger. It is an uncomfortable truth that, quite late into their working lives, many of the people we meet during our consulting engagements are still trying to find a role that truly satisfies them and an environment that ignites their passion.


My own working life has been a game of two halves. In the first half I pursued something – helping organisations with their marketing communications – that I discovered I could do quite well; in the second, more joyous half, including the last three years running my own company, beta baboon, I pursue only what I love to do. My fellow strategy baboon and I use creativity to help decision-makers land their best ideas in business and beyond.


I, though, have been very lucky in my career first half. Even whilst I was running around chasing every ball that I could, my then boss, former worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts, encouraged me to spend time reflecting on what made me happy; what I wanted to do; what my hopes and dreams were for the future. He also created an expectation that, having reflected on that personal purpose, I would start shaping my life to make it happen.


Not many tutors, as they start out in life, have the advantage of an enlightened boss to cajole them to develop a personal purpose, something to help them work out what they really want to do – and to be – in life.


Doubtless you have little time ‘off the ball’ because you are busy preparing for, or delivering, your next inspirational lesson for a Titanium Tutors client. So, by way of shortcut, here are four provocations that might help:


Who are you?

Before spending too much time exploring what you want to do consider first who you wish to be. Be candid. How wide is the gap between who you really are and who you project yourself to be in social media? Capture how you – and those who know you intimately – describe the authentic ‘you’. The first time I attempted this, that supportive boss of mine faxed his reply: ‘I don’t believe this. Try again. No bull****!’


When are you at your best?

When are you at your best? And worst? Happiest and unhappiest? Why is that? What insights do your answers reveal? However shiny the job appears to be, if you know that it will demand periods of unhappiness, or will create contexts that typically bring out the worst in you, why even show up for the interview? If you are happiest and at your best working in a team and the job is likely to see you in a darkened office most of the time, move on. If you thrive with routine, and the job comes with unpredictable hours, again move on. In their brilliant book The 100-Year Life, Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton describe a multistage life, identifying the need for newcomers to the workplace to expect repeated changes of direction. So, of course, what is ‘your best’ now will demand constant self-reflection, as you acquire new skills, embrace new challenges and experiment.


If you could only tell a story

Scrap the CV. Instead, write your life experiences to date as a story. What is the underlying theme? What are the headlines? Where is the dramatic tension? What does the story unearth about your beliefs, what you stand for, the causes you care about?


In writing the next chapter in your story, start with the dénouement and work back. You might even indulge yourself in the existential one – Why? In the world you would most like to see, and in your wildest dreams, what tiny part would you like to play? And why? That’s so much more interesting than which organisation’s T-shirt you happen to be wearing.


Most of us know that we’re probably not our own best storytellers. That’s where your partners and friends are so important, because they are the people who will hold a mirror up to you, who know what you really believe, who you really are. Ask them to listen to the story you have written. How might they tell it or re-tell it?


In the meantime stick with The Don

Whatever the near term future holds, whether you intend to start your own venture; to crack on with a doctorate; to produce, direct or act; to join the ranks of the employed; or to pursue your passion to teach and pass on wisdom to future generations; use your time with Titanium Tutors to develop a titanium track record in adherence to Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements:


1. Be impeccable with your word

2. Don’t take anything personally

3. Don’t make assumptions

4. Always do your best


I’m not sure he ever describes himself as a tutor, but the wisdom in Don Miguel Ruiz’ four precepts may well have seen him through at least the first round of a Titanium Tutors interview.


Blog Post Crafted by Richard


Richard Hytner is the former Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and founder of creative management consultancy beta baboon. Richard is also Adjunct Professor of Marketing at London Business School.

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