Six Career Lessons You Can Learn From Reality TV About Doing What You Love

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I have a confession to make . I am a bit of a Reality TV junkie!

No, not the Survivor, Big Brother, Bachelor/Bachelorette kind of mind-numbing Reality TV shows that defy rational explanation.  I mean shows like Deadliest CatchSwamp PeopleDirty JobsIce Road Truckers, and other reality-based programs the feature real-life people doing what they love and working in environments they find rewarding.

Reality TV is important because it teaches some really important lessons about our pursuit of careers that will make us happy! And, that’s what it’s all about, right? Do what you love and you’ll never “work” a day in your life, as the saying goes.

Think about it, have you seen a Reality TV program about careers that features people who really hate their jobs?  Nope! Who would want to watch a show, week after week, that focused on real-life people who hate their real-life  jobs?  The successful shows all feature people who really enjoy what they do for a living.  They are not perfect people and their jobs are not perfect, but they are doing what they believe they were born to do.  When you are lucky enough to have a job that allows you to do what you believe were born to do, everything else seems to work itself out; just not always easily or in the way you expect.

Six Career Lessons Reality TV Programs Teach About Doing What You Love

1. Doing what you love is rewarding

Driving a truck across Alaska, fishing for Opilio crab in the Bering  Sea, or hunting alligators may not be glamorous, but they can be very rewarding if you find that kind of work satisfying.  When choosing a career path, choose something you will find rewarding. If you do what you love, chances are good that you will find that work rewarding.

2. Doing what you love isn’t easy

Have you ever had a rewarding job that was easy?  I know I haven’t.  Hauling crab pots for hours on end; navigating an 18-wheeler loaded with cargo on ice in subzero temperatures and blinding snow storms; and piloting a boat in the Louisiana swamps ain’t easy.  It is tiring work, both mentally and physically.  But, if you love the work, it’s worth the effort. If you are looking for a job and your #1 goal is “it has to be easy,”  you’re not looking for a rewarding job, you’re looking for a paycheck.  Don’t confuse the two, because if you really want to do what you love – chances are it won’t be easy.

3. Doing what you love requires sacrifice

Time, money, family, health – any of these might be sacrificed when you do what you love.  Crab fishermen are away from their families for months at a time and put their lives and health at risk just doing their jobs; ice road truckers lead a pretty solitary existence on the road; and you are probably never going to get exceptionally wealthy as an alligator hunter.  Life is full of trade-offs, whether you are pursuing an extreme career or not.  Doing what you love will inevitably require some sacrifice on your part.  When you have to decide what sacrifices you are going to make for your career, make sure you know what you are doing!

4. Doing what you love involves conflict

The crews of the Northwestern, the Time Bandit and the Wizard (all crab boats) don’t always get along with each other or with other crews.  Captain Keith of the Wizard has a temper.  Junior and Tommy (a father & step-son alligator hunting team) disagree about how to do their jobs.  Hugh and Rick (two drivers on Alaska’s ice road) have a fierce rivalry.  You cannot escape conflict – whether you are doing what you love or not.  Doing what you love will not free you from conflict in your job.

5. Doing what you love may not be conventional

These reality shows are a testament to the fact that not all jobs are conventional or traditional – not everyone goes to work in an office at 8 am and goes home at 5 pm, Monday thru Friday. There are many different ways to make a living; there are many, many options.  If you doing what you love is important to you, you might find yourself doing something you never expected – and there is nothing wrong with that.  Look at Dirty Jobs.  Did you know that people make their living as sea sponge divers, camel ranchers, surfboard makers and forensic entomologists? Neither did I, but just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid or valuable career path for someone. Doing what you love means you may not pursue a conventional career path – and that’s okay!

6. Doing what you love builds confidence

Why do so many people submit their jobs to “Dirty Jobs” to get on the show?  Why are crab fishermen, truck drivers and alligator hunters willing to allow camera crews to invade their workplaces and share their lives and stories with the world?  It’s not because they are perfect (they certainly are not) and it’s not just to get their 15 minutes of fame.  It’s because they are terribly proud of what they do!  Proud enough to put it on display for all the viewing public to see; warts, beauty marks and all!  Do what you love and you will be proud of what you do, and pride builds confidence!

See, Reality TV shows do serve a purpose (or maybe I have just found a way to rationalize the time I spend watching them).

You be the judge.  Do what you love and see if I’m wrong or right!

Now,  excuse me please  – I have a Deadliest Catch marathon to watch!

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