Pace Smith: A Biography
It’s the autumn of 2009, and I’m sitting in my office, sweating.
I’m waiting to talk to my boss to give my notice.
My hands shake as I think back on my life story so far. It goes a little something like this:
Pace Smith: A Biography
Pace Smith grew up, went to college, and graduated with a degree in Logic & Computation and a double major in Computer Science.
She applied for her dream job as an Artificial Intelligence programmer, and got the job.
For 13 years, she worked with intelligent, quirky, fun people, some of whom became her friends.
She made gobs of money, took pride in her work, and became respected in her field.
And then one day, she threw it all away.
What the fuck, Pace?! What were you thinking?
Don’t look at me, I’m just the biographer! I certainly don’t know what she was thinking. You know what? Let’s just stop this story right here before it gets any worse.
I sit up in my desk chair, I emerge from my fourth-wall-breaking reverie, and I take a deep breath. I ask myself, “What am I really throwing away?”
4 words come to my mind and to my heart: skills, talents, passions, and calling.
Your skills are what you’re good at. They increase with practice.
Your talents are an amplifier for your skills.
Deliberate practice increases any skill, but if you practice something you’re talented at, you’ll increase your skill faster.
Your passions are what you care about – what lights you up. These are the things you want to practice, regardless of skill or talent.
Where your passions and talents overlap, your skill will increase super fast because you’ll practice it more, you’ll get better faster, and you’ll have fun doing it. You’ll quickly become an expert – or at least expert enough to be of service.
This is where most people stop. Find something you’re passionate about and talented at, then do it.
But your calling is deeper than that.
Your passions may fade or burn out, but your calling will sustain you.
Your passions may be:
- physical (e.g. passionate about dance)
- intellectual (e.g. passionate about chess)
- emotional (e.g. passionate about art)
…but your calling is spiritual – your soul’s calling.
“What am I really throwing away?”
Am I throwing away my skills? Yes. I’m choosing a path on which LISP programming will be useless to me.
Am I throwing away my talents? No. My skills were rooted in my talent of excavating truth, of seeing how different pieces fit together. I’ll use that same talent to develop new skills – the skills of teaching and Pathfinding coaching.
Am I throwing away my passions? No. One is already gone, and new ones are arising from its ashes. My passion for artificial intelligence has already faded, and I’m being swept away by new passions of entrepreneurship, writing, teaching, speaking, healing, and coaching.
Am I throwing away my calling? HELL NO. I’m throwing away my skills so that I can follow my heart, so that I can find my path, so that I can accept my calling.
Pace Smith: A Biography (2nd edition)
Pace Smith grew up, went to college, and learned to solve problems.
She applied for her dream problem-solving job, and got the job.
For 13 years, she worked with intelligent, quirky, fun problem-solvers, some of whom became her friends.
She solved thousands of problems, made gobs of money, and became respected in her field.
And then one day, she helped heal someone’s heart.
One day, she realized that there are things in this life that are so much more than problems to be solved.
One day, remaining tight in a bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
One day, she let go of everything from her old life so that she could be free to follow her heart.
…and she lived wildly, crazily, meaningfully ever after.