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Passion Blurs Personal vs. Professional

I gave a talk the other day at Northwestern University, and during the Q & A, someone asked me how one separates their personal life from their professional life, after I had suggested that they allow their business contacts to connect with them on Facebook. In response to the question of separation, I proceeded to say that it is difficult, and that personal and professional have become one in the same. I suggested that in today's connected world, where we are always in touch with one another, on multiple platforms with a plethora of devices, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to disconnect from one life, and connect with another.

LegoThere were many people who disagreed with this statement. When I subsequently mentioned it to friends over the weekend, they too said that I was wrong. They informed me that when Friday rolls around, their business life stops, and doesn't start again until Monday. They further suggested that the fact that I don't separate my professional life from my business life was my failing, and that I should structure my life better.

Well, to paraphrase Ed Harris' line in the movie Apollo 13 (one of my favorites):

"With all due respect, what you see as my biggest failing is actually what I see as my greatest success".

You see, in my opinion, all of the people who like to point out that all I do is work, and that I have no separation between my personal and professional life don't understand how I arrived to this point. I absolutely love what I do, and for me, there is little difference between work and play, because when I work, I love what I'm learning, love what I'm achieving, love what I'm accomplishing, love the challenge that work brings. My professional life allows me to do what others only dream about, and who wouldn't want to live in a world where dreams come true.

What's my point? Simply this.

If you find work for which you have passion, for which you enjoy immensely, for which you describe with love, it no longer is really work. It is simply a great life. And you would never want to separate yourself from a great life.

I'm fortunate. I formed a life in which I can pursue my passion, and the idea of separating personal from professional seems counter-intuitive. I can only suggest that you seek to do the same for yourself, find work which allows you to pursue your passion. We are all capable, it is simply a matter of wanting it badly enough. No matter what it is you do for a living.

Tell me if you think I'm unrealistic.


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I think you're spot on, Joel. I understand there are plenty of jobs that people want to leave behind when they walk out the door, but for the networked professional who is looking to grow a rep and a business, friends are prospects, prospects are friends and the social life is networking. Don't let 'em drag you down.

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