Being an entrepreneur isn't just a great way to make some your mark on the world (and potentially some money too), it's also a great way to learn. Open a bakery, and you'll quickly know your town's every cupcake preference. Haul junk and the secrets of people's waste bins will all be revealed.

But how about if you start a business that's not about baked goods or garbage, but instead focused on stories?

After not too long you'll be rich in knowledge about common life lessons, oft-experienced regrets, and other valuable wisdom collected by those whose tales you've listened to over the years. Which is what makes a post about StoryCorps founder Dave Isay that appeared on the TED blog recently so fascinating.

In it, Isay, who just published a book entitled Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, shares what he's learned from listening to thousands of people talk about finding work they love. How do people really land their dream job? Isay is in a great position to know. Here are a few of the fundamental lessons he's learned.

1. The road to your dream job often passes through suffering.

Suffering sucks, but according to Isay it's also often a pretty good way to find the work you were meant to do. "Having an experience that really shakes you and reminds you of your mortality can be a very clarifying event in people's lives. Oftentimes, it leads to changes," Isay says, citing a few heart-rending examples from his experience at StoryCorps.

2 If you want to do really meaningful work, prepare to ruffle feathers.

"Calling, says Isay, very often starts with taking a stand against a status quo that simply isn't acceptable, and then dedicating your work to changing it," writes TED's Kate Torgovnick May, summing up several examples given by Isay. If you do that sort of work, prepare for some push back.

3. Identifying your dream job is only the first step.

"Understanding what your calling is--that's very different than the blood, sweat and tears of actually doing it," Isay wisely points out.

4. Age is irrelevant.

In the stories of career fulfillment that Isay has collected, the age at which people discover their calling varies greatly -- from determined strivers who identified their dream gig at age 15 to folks who trudged through unsatisfying careers for decades before making a switch to their true calling.

5. Don't expect to make a bundle.

What's another trend Isay has observed? Finding your dream job often means leaving a big paycheck behind. His book is short on the well paid, but rich in the highly satisfied. "The message we send to young people is that you want to do as little work as you can to make as much money as you can--that's the dream," Isay tells TED. "But the wisdom in the StoryCorps archive is that there's another, much more rewarding dream of taking risks and working very hard to live with integrity."

Published on: May 13, 2016
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