This 7th-Grader Schooled Me In The Exception To The ‘Don’t Pursue Your Passions As Work’ Rule

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shutterstock_117094339I’ve been working since I was 10 years old. I babysat everyday after school for three little girls. The summer after sixth grade I got my working papers under an early exception which allowed younger children to work on a farm and promptly got a job at a local nursery. When I was old enough to get my full permit I started busing tables at a restaurant where I worked until I went to college. I won’t plague you with my entire resume but I held random jobs all through college (not just summers) and law school – from being a nanny to teaching in Washington D.C. to waiting tables. I loved many of my jobs and never hated work as much as when I started in my chosen career — the law.

With years of experience in the working world, I’m a little jaded about career paths and my realities of work-life balance in a highly competitive, male-dominated field. So it makes sense that I’ve said if I could go back and give my young self advice it would be this: ditch the career and just go get a job.

But nothing makes me feel better than a young person who embodies that “love your work” spirit and not only wants to make her passion her career, but is taking steps to actually make it happen.  And she’s only in seventh grade.

Blake Kernen describes why today, Take Your Child To Work Day, a U.S. tradition started in 1993, is one of her favorite days of the year.

I love going to work with my dad, 4 a.m. wake-up call and all, it’s something my younger brother and I truly look forward to each year. There’s a bunch of reasons why it’s a great day. For one, I think my dad works at a really cool place — a TV network. Also, it’s the one day of the year when I get to spend time with my dad’s colleagues and their kids. And, who doesn’t love to learn new things, meet new people, and miss school and not have to feel guilty about it? But the best thing about going to Take Your Kids to Work Day is seeing my dad do something he truly loves to do.

Blake explains that she watched Steve Jobs’ commencement address for a class assignment. The words spoke to her, but more than likely it was because she had her father as a role model for that career passion.

My dad found “it” and he’s lucky he did, because finding “it” is truly important in life. “It” is figuring out what you really want to do in life, going for it and doing it. It’s earned success, finding out what makes you happy, working at it, and achieving it. Earned success can be anything you want it to be — writing beautiful stories, being a musician, painting, being a doctor, helping others, bankers, lawyers — something that brings value to your life, and other people’s lives. For most people, earned success is one of the most gratifying and satisfying feelings in the world.

Not only does this young girl have passion about her potential future career path and finding ‘it’ she is ridiculously realistic about it. She doesn’t hold romantic notions of being a bazillionaire, she knows what loving what you do really means.

Entrepreneurs and innovators already know this. For them, it’s really not all about how much money they make, or even how many times they fail before making any money. The average entrepreneur makes approximately $45,000 per year, and fails 3.8 times before succeeding. It’s their desire for earned success, doing something that they love, and the satisfaction and happiness that comes with it, that keeps them motivated.

Not only does Blake have this down-to-earth attitude well beyond her years, but she is also putting in the work.  She co-authored a book with her father exploring themes of capitalism – when she was in fifth grade. Now you might dismiss it because her father has connections and he might have done a lot of the work, but come on! Most fifth graders would rather hang out at the pizza place, ride bikes, or play video games. This girl gets it! She gets hard work, she gets voicing her opinion, she gets how important it is to know your stuff – she should be following her passion with every cell of her being. Of course, she doesn’t need me to tell her that. She already knows.

(photo: ollyy/Shutterstock)