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Career Coach: Have You Lost Your Compass?

The Career Coach explores various ways people have managed to stay on or veer back to their chosen career path.

Often artists are deterred from pursuing a career in the arts because of a belief that they cant make money as artists. With thousands of people making livings as artists, I dont understand how this myth is perpetuated. But just today, I met a young woman whose parents refused to pay for her to go to art school, thinking she wouldnt be employable after that kind of education. They did help her go to college and she studied humanities, which her parents thought would lead her to law or teaching. Her parents are proud that she is gainfully employed at Disney a company founded by an artist!

Often artists give up on their dream even before they get started. And some neglect their personal art when they get jobs as artists. Luckily for us, some dont. Some, like Richard Doc Baily, are compelled to create, no matter what. Their instinct, their very being needs to create. I talked to Doc Baily at a visual effects bakeoff at the Motion Picture Academy on Jan. 19, 2005. I believe I first commented on the sparkling red cowboy boots and cape he was wearing. I emailed him after the meeting and invited him to a seminar I was giving on goal setting and following your dreams.

Doc replied

Pretty much everyone I know is doing more or less what they want to be doing now. I dont hang with people who have lost their compass. Stick with the winners.


Doc never lost his compass, and he sought the company of associates who followed their muses and used their gifts. I saw Doc Baily at this years bakeoff but didnt take the chance to say hello again. I wish I had. Richard Doc Baily died April 20, 2006, at age 53. Some believe it is a shame to die at the early age of 53, but Doc Baily had 53 years of following his dream, doing what he loved to do, following his compass. The real shame is leading a long life and spending it doing what you dont want to do.

Doc inspired many and will continue to do so through his work posted at

Everyone has talents and abilities things that really excite them. What are yours? It may be numbers, art, science or writing. Whatever it is, follow your gift. Your compass is leading you to a path that is right for you. Dont lose it.

Youll benefit from associating with others who are following their passions. Theyre inspiring, interesting and more fun to be around. I have a friend who is a former lawyer. Whenever I visited her, I always felt a little down and lethargic afterwards. When she finally decided to follow her dream and write mysteries her whole personality changed. She was fun to be around and when I visited with her, I felt upbeat and energized. Seek those who are living their dreams and live yours also.

Doc Baily never suppressed his artistic calling. He was able to express himself. And what is more important for an artist than to be able to express himself? If you have put your artistic self on the shelf, dust it off and start exploring the possibilities.

If you have put your passion on hold and have lost your compass, its time to stop wandering aimlessly and give yourself a renewed sense of direction and focus. Commit to those lost dreams today. Tomorrow may be too late. And treasure your compass.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter and career coach. As a career coach, she helps clients rediscover their dreams and follow their compass. Her recruiting clients include Blue Sky Studios, Framestore and Digital Domain. She speaks frequently at colleges and conferences. In May, she spoke at the fmx in Stuttgart, Germany; the Art Institute in Pittsburgh and Disney Feature Animation. She will present a course called Résumés and Demo Reels If Yours Arent Working, Neither are You! at SIGGRAPH 06 in Boston on Monday, July 31 and will teach a class on career strategies at Gnomon this summer (more information can be found on Gnomons website).