Profit or Passion by Nog Ferengi
An oppressive parental figure. A harsh mentor. An expectation from someone above you to take a specific life path — even though you’ve already set your mind on pursuing another. Lots of us can relate to the shared experience of wanting something that conflicts with what our friends, family, parents or colleagues want for us. The question is: what do you do in a situation like this?
Today we’re going to walk you through someone who’s on this path right now. His name is Nog — a fellow on a pretty universal journey, if you will. A young man from a profit-based planet (or, should we say, city), Nog has dreams of joining an organization based on charting, exploring and defending unseen lands. Unfortunately, he’s running up against problems with his uncle, who’s convinced that the best move for Nog is to take a more active role at the family bar in the coming years.
To get clarity around his concerns, Nog’s written a few journals to us in hopes of better navigating his situation. Let’s dig into his first journal entry now and see what we can glean (and hopefully, by the end of this coaching session, you’ll be inspired to start journaling about your challenges, too).
Nog’s first journal entry: profit or passion
“I have a really difficult decision to make. My uncle has told me that he expects me to take a more active role at his bar next year, and my dad seems to be on board with that idea… but I have other plans. I’ve decided I want to apply as a cadet to the academy and try to become an officer in Starfleet. I’m not sure if I should admit to these plans before I’ve even gotten in, but I can already guess what my uncle will say. ‘There’s no profit in it!’ and ‘You’ll never really belong there.’ He’s right, of course, but maybe there’s more to life than earning profit… I have to make a decision soon, because I’m getting to the point where I have to choose an apprenticeship, some direction to go in. I just don’t want to turn out like my dad who struggled beneath my uncle’s shadow, when he’s secretly the most talented mechanic I’ve ever met. I know I have the lobes for this if I just get my chance…” — Nog F.
First impressions: stuck between a Nog and a hard place
So, from Nog’s journal, it’s clear that he’s caught between two really tough decisions. Should he join up with the bar (the “smart” choice) or apply for his dream job (the “passionate” choice)? This happens to so many of us — we’ve all been in a spot where we’re made to feel a certain way about our passions. You’ve probably heard questions like these from your own circle before: “What’re you going to do with an art degree?” or “Isn’t it time you quit the band and grew up?” People in our lives can sometimes make our choices seem black and white, when obviously there are many shades of gray involved in a situation like this.
So: first, it’s important that we sort of “check our story” about Nog up front. That means we’re not going to judge Nog for anything we assume about him; rather, we’re going to strictly look at what he’s said in his journal and go from there. If we didn’t do this, we might fall into a trap where we simply tell Nog to “follow his dreams,” even if that’s not really realistic advice for his particular situation. Instead of doing that, what we need to do is really understand Nog.
We need to know his motivation behind wanting to join this Starfleet organization. Is it for fun? A sense of adventure? Financial stability? Or something else? In essence, what is it about becoming a Starfleet officer that speaks to him over something like working for and owning a bar? In fact, let’s put that question to Nog and see what he has to say about it.
Next: seeking inspiration, not monetization
What is it about becoming an officer that speaks to you over something like owning a business?
“It’s hard to say, but I look at the admiration that the officers who come to the bar get from their subordinates and how their worth isn’t tied to how much they earn, but the amount of success they find in their passions. Every doctor, engineer, even the heads of security and operations is treated like a celebrity because they do what they love. Besides, I’m okay at business, but it’s not what I’m passionate about…I want to feel inspired by what I do.”
Alright, amazing: we’ve identified some of Nog’s core beliefs, and that’s something we can work with! It sounds like Nog really ties the idea of a passion to his career, and he doesn’t associate passion with profit all that much. It seems as though the kind of “profit” he’s really seeking is the adoration of those who see what he does and are impressed with his ability to provide security to others. Nog wants the respect of his peers, and he wants to be in love with what he does. And those are all great and healthy desires.
What we’re also learning is that Nog is sort of making decisions and creating beliefs when he might not have all the information he needs at his disposal. For instance: has Nog had a deep sit-down conversation with either his uncle or his dad to discern their true feelings about his decision to pursue a role as an officer? He can already “guess” at what his uncle will say, but has he spoken to him yet? Moreover, even if his uncle rejects his plans, will his dad disagree? We can’t know for sure yet whether or not his choice will actually be a chaotic decision within his family, or if he’s making it bigger than it might be.
That’s something that’s going to matter to Nog if he joins up and becomes a Starfleet officer. He’ll need to use his communication skills, and he’ll have to have those hard conversations, even when they’re undesirable. It might be helpful to have this small confrontation now so that bigger, career-oriented confrontations aren’t so hard later on.
So it seems like we’ve got two questions for Nog: first, is there a way to talk to your dad and uncle about your decision? And second, are these internal battles you’re fighting worth keeping inside? Let’s let Nog forge his own path again for a bit, and we’ll check in on him in a few weeks.
The check-in: surmounting confrontation
“I got in!! It wasn’t easy, and I had to have a pretty big fight with my uncle over it, but my dad came through and said he would support my application and I. got. In!!!!! I’m so excited. I realized that I was running away from being a disappointment, but once I got some support, I could see my future was to be a part of something bigger than myself. Being who I am instead of what someone else expects of me took a weight off my shoulders and now I’ll be the first in my family to have this opportunity.”
What a journal! That’s amazing for Nog. He got into Starfleet, and he’s also got the approval of his father. Even though his uncle isn’t happy about things, Nog feels more at peace because he’s able to pursue his true desires — which involve altruistically helping others — instead of turning inward and working to make himself rich or profitable.
So, what we’ve helped Nog do is confront those “hard conversations” we all have to have, and he’s taken our advice in stride by tackling his challenges head-on. When that happened, he realized that the conversation itself, while a little rocky, wasn’t nearly as hard as he was building it up to be! That’s something a lot of us do in our own lives: we agonize over how others are going to perceive our decisions, but at the end of the day, many of us are at our happiest when we speak our truths and own our own narratives (or at least, Nog seems happier by doing this!).
That’s pretty big growth for Nog. And hopefully, if you’ve dealt with something similar, you’ve learned a thing or two from his process as well. If you need advice on how to get the approval of someone important to you (or you’re stuck between two really hard decisions and don’t know which way to go), come and talk to us! Listen to our whole podcast episode on Nog or visit The Journal That Talks Back to get coaching just like this.
Only, we’re hoping your problems are a little more grounded… because we’re not really sure how to help you fill out a Starfleet application.