Accept Nothing Less Than Great

Accept Nothing Less Than Great

Lately I have had young clients concerned that they are going to fail to have a great career. What can they do?

I was once a farmer. I grew shade, ornamental trees, and shrubs for a living. Anytime nature is your partner things can do wrong. With that in mind, I can do cheerless. So most of the people who ask how to find a great career are ready for a gloomy conversation. Face it; the economy hasn’t been good. So I tell them that I will only work with them if they want a great career, not a good or mediocre one; it has to be a great one. Some of them have already decided they want a good career, while the rest have to decide immediately. The only right answer is “great career.” Lacking that, they are going to fail and there is little I can do.

Why are those looking for great jobs,

great careers failing to achieve these goals?

Mainly because many of them go about it

in a way that can’t possibly work.

The ones who want only a good career aren’t going to succeed  because the good jobs are quickly disappearing, along with the middle class. However, the great jobs and the great careers are still out there. The alternative is most likely the heavy-workload, heavy-stress, bloodsucking, soul-rending jobs, and almost nothing in-between. So the folks just looking for the good jobs are not going to reach their goals.

Why are those looking for great jobs, great careers failing to achieve these goals? Mainly because many of them go about it in a way that can’t possibly work. Often they never even recognize their mistake.

The first reason they fail is regardless of how many times they have heard, “If you want a great career, you’ve got to pursue your passion, you have to follow your dreams, you have to chase the greatest fascination in your life,” and they decide not to. It doesn’t matter how many times they listen to Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address, they still hear it and decide they don’t have to do it. I still don’t know why they decide not to do it; are they lazy? It’s too hard? Are they afraid that if they seek their passion and don’t realize it, they’ll look like an idiot? They are just excuses, all of them. Sometimes as you explain it to them, they see the flaw in their thinking, or sometimes not.

The creative excuses I encounter for reasons not to do what they really need to do if they want to have a great career are staggering.

Here is a fabulous excuse: “Well, getting the really great careers are actually, for most folk, just luck. So I’m going to hang around, I’m going see if I can be lucky, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll have a fabulous career. And hey, in the worst case, if I’m not, I’ll have a good career.” But like I said, that’s not going to work, because a “good career” is becoming an impossibility to find.

Another great excuse: “Yep, there are exceptional individuals who are able to pursue their passions, but they are prodigies. They’re people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Jack Welch. Mom said I wasn’t ever going to be a genius. Then when I went to school, my teachers completely beat the idea of being exceptional out of my head.” You can see where this one ends.

The creative excuses I encounter for reasons not to do what they really need to do if they want to have a great career are just staggering.

Sometimes I hear: “And now I know I am really proficient.” Guys, if this were 1960, being really proficient would have given you a great career and a safe life. But this is 2017, and saying to the universe, “I am totally, really proficient,” is condemning yourself with the weakest acclaim.

And here’s my personal favorite: “Well Frank, I could do this, I would really like to do this, but you know, I’m not weird. Everybody knows that people who pursue their passions are fabulously obsessive. A little strange, that’s okay, right? Frank, there’s a very fine line between madness and genius. I’m not peculiar. I’ve read Steve Jobs biography and oh my goodness, I’m just not that person; he was a dick! I am a nice person. I am a normal person. Nice normal people never develop that kind of passion about work.”

Here is yet another one: “But I still want a great career. I’m just not ready to chase my passion, so this is what I’ll do, because I really do have a solution. I have a trick. It’s the one Mom and Uncle Jimmy told me about. Mommy and Uncle Jimmy told me that if I worked hard, just like they did down at the plant, I’d have a good career. So, if you work hard and have a good vocation, if you work really, really, really hard, you’ll have a great career. Doesn’t that scientifically make sense?” I tell them NO. But by then, many have managed to talk themselves into that failing idea.

Do you want to work? Do you want to work very, very, very hard? Guess what? You’ll succeed! The world will bequest on you the opportunity to work very, very, very hard. But I wouldn’t be so sure of your great career. As I have said all the evidence of success is to the contrary.

Here is a thought for those of you who are trying to find your passion. You appreciate that you really need one, never mind the excuses. You’re trying to find your passion, and you’re so happy. You tell me that you have found something you’re interested in. “I have an interest! I have an interest!”

You say, “I have an interest!” I say, “That’s great! And what are you trying to tell me?” “Well,” you announce, “I have an interest just like you said I should.” I reply, “Do you have passion?” “I have an interest,” you say. “Your interest is compared to what?”, I say… “Well, I’m interested in this idea or that thing.” “And what about the rest of humanity’s activities I ask?” “I’m not interested in them” you say. I ask, “You’ve looked at them all, have you?” “No. Not exactly,” and by now you are starting to frown at me.

Look folks, passion is your greatest-fucking-love. Passion is the thing that will help you create the utmost manifestation of your genius. Passion & interest, they are hardly in the same universe! Are you really going to go to your future wife and say, “Marry me! You’re my interest?” Really? She won’t marry you, she’ll come to hate you, and you will likely die lonely. What you want, what you need, what you can’t survive without, is passion. It’s way beyond interest. You need 20-30 interests. If you have that many, one of them, if you are really really lucky might just grab you, one of them might occupy your mind more than anything else, and then you just might have found your greatest love, in comparison to all the other things that interest you. That’s what passion is.

I have a friend who proposed to his girlfriend. He was a cost-effective, rational kind of guy. He said to this girl, “Let’s get married. Let’s merge our interests.”


I want to talk to those of you who are trying to find your passion. You appreciate that you really had better do it, never mind the excuses

Yep, believe it or not, that is what he said!

“I really love you,” he said. “I love you SO deeply. I love you more than any other woman I’ve ever encountered! I love you more than Janet, Diane, Anna, Julie, Jackie, Penny, Susan. I love you more than …. ” Yep; she left the room. After recovering from his surprise at being turned down, he decided he’d just escaped from marrying a crazy woman. Although he did decide that the next time he proposed, he wasn’t going to list all of the women he had interviewed for the job.

You have to review your choices to find your destiny. But did you know that there are the people afraid of the word “destiny.” Does the word destiny scare you? Does it leave you feeling less in control of your life? That’s what we’re talking about. And if you don’t find the utmost manifestation of your genius, if you settle for “interesting,” can you imagine what will happen at the end of your long hard working life? When your friends and family gather at your funeral, your tombstone might read, “Here lies a distinguished researcher, he invented a Clorox additive.” But what that tombstone should have said, if you were able to demonstrate the highest expression of your genius, is, “Here lies the a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, who working with the Nobel Laureate in Physics formulated the first chemical cold fusion reactor and demonstrated the practicality cold fusion, freeing the world from a carbon based economy.”

Clorox, right….

One was a Great Career. One was a damn missed opportunity.

There are some who, in spite of all your excuses, will find your passion. And yet you’ll still fail. You’re going to fail, because you’re not going to pursue it, because you will have invented a new excuse, one I have heard, an excuse to not take action: “Yes, I would pursue a great career, but, I value my relationships more than accomplishment. I want to be a real friend. I want to be a great partner. I want to be a great parent, and I will not sacrifice them on the altar of accomplishment.”

“I have a family…they are very important to me… I love my wife.”  Look at the worldview you’ve given yourself. You’re a hero no matter what. And I, by suggesting that you might want a great career, must hate family. But what do you mean? That’s what you expect me to say. Do you really think it’s appropriate that you should actually take family and use it as armor from success? Your kid will come to you someday and say, “I know what I want to be. I know what I’m going to do with my life.” You’ll be so happy. It’s the conversation every parent wants to hear. Says your kid, “I have decided I want to be a singer. I want to sing on the stage.”

And what do you say? “That’s a risky bet. Might fail, kid. Don’t make a lot of money at that, kid. I don’t know, kid, you should think about that again. You’re so good at chemistry, why don’t you …. ”

The kid interrupts you and says, “But it’s my dream. It’s my dream to sing.” And what are you going to say? “Look kid. I had a dream once, too, but …. How are you going to finish the sentence? I had a dream too, kid, and I was afraid to pursue it.” Or are you going to tell him this: “I had a dream once, kid. But then, I got married?”

Are you really going to use your family as your excuse? There was something you could have said to your kid when you heard, “I have a dream.” You could have said, “Go for it, kid! Just like I did.” But you won’t be able to say that, because you didn’t go for it.

The bible turns out to be right; the sins of the parents are visited on the children. How dare you seek refuge in relationships as your excuse not to find and pursue your passion? How cowardly.

You’re just afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you might fail. Great friend, great spouse, great parent, great career, don’t they all come in one package? Isn’t that who you are? Don’t kid yourself; how can you be one without the others? But you’re afraid…you poor thing.

And if you don’t make your way through this mess we call life, you’re not going to have a great career.


It’s my job to get people to understand the reasons they might fail to have a great career and to recognize the word, “unless” and use it, to live it and have that great career.


Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.