Beyond the Build


Find a Passion First

This week, I was talking with a customer of ours who is half of a pair of successful brothers in real estate, who have built upon what their grandfather started several decades ago. We got to talking about jobs and what makes one satisfied, and resolved that many of our contemporaries go after the money, and a few years later, find themselves with “golden handcuffs.” They have family overhead, a mortgage, reoccurring club bills, and the list goes on and on.

I also had a conversation with another customer this week who had a child that decided college was not for him, and elected to repair marine engines instead. He works hard during the season and gets plenty of paid time off during the low season. He has found a passion, and is happy as a clam.

My customer and I are fortunate; we happen to have backed into professions–maybe my design–that we enjoy, at least most days. (Although this spring has felt more like I remain under a thunderstorm.)

When I meet with young people, as I do every January at The University of the South, I suggest a few things to the seniors. It’s really applicable to most anybody of any age:

  • If one career does not work out, find another one. It’s never too late. Get going.
  • Go for passion and joy. Hopefully the money should follow, but it’s more important to be reasonably happy at your job most days.
  • Keep your overhead low until you think you have found your mark.
  • Nothing is ever permanent, no matter how much we would like it to be. There are no straight lines. Success is a point in time not a destination.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.