Interview: Nancy Anderson on getting paid for your passion

Nancy AndersonI loved Nancy Anderson’s book Work With Passion In Midlife And Beyond. My brain has been synapsing all over the place since I read it, and just this past week I came up with an idea to work towards that I would never in a million years considered. If you haven’t read my book review, please do! You can read it here.

As with anything worth working towards, there are no Get Rich Quick Schemes. You can get there, as witnessed by the people who have, but you have to allow time for the process.

I asked Nancy to expand upon the concepts of working with passion found in her book.

Eliza asked about realistic time expectations for getting paid for our passions

As a project manager, I find many of my clients fixate on the tools they want to use. They think tools are a quick fix to whatever ails their business. Most of the time, after getting them to walk through their processes, they realize the tools they wanted won’t give them any business value. The discovery time invested up front pays off big time in the end. This is analogous to people leaping at the internet as a tool to make money quickly, only to find out this wasn’t the right tool for them.

In your book, you have people walk through their own personal processes before even considering the ‘tool’ they need to use for a passion filled career. Many people reading your book likely start out looking for a fastpath to passion and money. I realize you cannot say “it will take exactly this long to work through your personal processes”, but in your experience with your clients, what is a reasonable expectation of time needed to get to a point of a point of reaching their full potential and making the money they need?

Nancy answered

Five years before they put it all together. Sometimes longer depending on how deep they are in debt and/or in dysfunctional relationships. But since life is going to go on anyway, they learn to focus on making the changes that improve today’s life, such as becoming more patient with the slowness of change, and saying no to what and who won’t work for them.

Good boundaries allow them to appreciate that internal change is hard, but it leads to outer changes that work over the long haul, like developing the habit of saving, being direct in communication instead of manipulative, or eating only when hungry. Another example would be not being in a hurry only to find out they’ve repeated the past, bad boss, overwork, poor choices, etc. When they avoid quick fixes like the plague, and manage the money they have, they are close to the happy ending.

Eliza asked about why we think we don’t deserve success

In the last several years, I have been fortunate to interact with many entrepreneurs. What I find extremely surprising, however, is how many block themselves from really rocking out their own potential. If I had a dollar for each person who said “I don’t deserve this” I would be rich! Okay, not quite, but it is still way too many people.

This concept of work needing to be painful to be considered real work is clearly entrenched in us at a societal level. You touch on this in your book, but would you mind expanding on this? Has this attitude existed or is this a relatively new concept? And if so, what brought about this change in attitude towards work?

Nancy answered

The belief that work is painful is as old as the Garden of Eden story, as I say in one of the chapters in the book. After Adam and Eve were thrown out of the garden humans, so the story goes, were condemned from then on to live by the sweat of their brows, no more lounging around in Paradise, it was suffer, suffer, suffer, then maybe if you were really, really good you’d go to heaven. If not, well…you know the images of hell from famous painters and poets like Dante. Later came the uptight Puritans, who began with the laudable goal of purifying excesses of the English court, but who, as with many reformers, wound up imposing worse standards than those they tried to correct.

Most of all, holding oneself back is due to the fear that we can’t handle the envy that goes with success, particularly from those who are close to us. Success sets us apart from most people, just look at the class warfare that goes on in politics: soak the rich philosophies based on the belief people should not be THAT rich, if they are they are greedy. Well, some are, some are not; many support charities and causes, others create many jobs. As one of my clients said when his business took off, “I don’t know what I’m going to talk about with my family now.” In the past, he was comfortable complaining to them about how bad it was, the economy, demanding customers, etc. since that made him feel part of a family. But now that he’s figured out what he was doing wrong he has no complaints, but sometimes he feels alone and lonely, as do many successful people. It’s part of the territory. Fortunately, there are many upsides to success, chiefly self-respect.

So, I’d say it’s deep-seated guilt about being happy and financially successful that causes people to compensate by not being comfortable with having made it. Guilt and self-effacement are payoffs they make for daring to live life to the fullest, like insurance against a jealous God or because they feel badly about surpassing a father or mother who did not get what they wanted out of life.

Eliza asked about what really needs to take place to get paid for our passions

You quote one of your clients, Ann, as saying about her new passionate career “Essentially, I get paid to be me.” I may be over simplifying, but really what you are guiding your readers to do is discover exactly who ‘me’ is? Until we strip ourselves down to ‘me’, and live as ‘me’, we cannot possibly get paid to be ‘me’. Is this a fair assessment?

Nancy answered

That is a fair assessment. The “me” Ann gets paid to be was buried beneath layers of illogical decisions she made while growing up in a disturbed family situation, as is the case with all of us. She became externally motivated, looking outside of herself for how to live and work. She pushed herself to be like highly extroverted, recognition driven women she thought of as role models: movie stars, leading lights in the music and media worlds.

Ann was not emotionally sophisticated enough to look beneath the surface to see the internal turmoil that masked outer success. She was easily taken in by appearances because she was starved for approval and affection, just like the icons she admired. She had to slow down her life so that she could hear the voice of her authentic self, who saw everyone as they were, not as Ann wanted or imagined them to be. Then she could see and accept herself as a quiet introvert who succeeds when she lives and works at her own pace, in her own way.

Have your say

Are you surprised at the length of time Nancy suggested it takes to get paid for our passions?
What holds you back from truly embracing your passions?

More information

A copy of Work With Passion And Beyond will be given away here at Silver & Grace on April 27th. Make sure you enter to win!

Learn more about Nancy Anderson and Work With Passion In Midlife And Beyond here.

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