The Prince Quote That Helped Shape My Career

The Internet has been hammered with the news that pop legend Prince died yesterday. Rarely have I seen such an outpouring of condolences. Maybe it seems a bit much, given how many other, far more awful tragedies happened yesterday. Maybe we're all happy to have somewhere to direct our emotions other than the increasingly hostile presidential primary. Or maybe — and I think this is the one — so many of us were affected by Prince in some way, even if we weren't necessarily his hugest fans.

I've always had a conflicted relationship with work, as I'm sure many of you have. I know work is necessary to earn money and pay the bills, but I also struggle to find meaning in the day-to-day. How I spend my life from 9 to 5 (and often beyond) matters to me — a lot. For that reason, my career trajectory has really been a journey in self-discovery, in finding a way to spend my time that both pays the bills and feels rewarding. Since I graduated from college in 2001, I've been a web developer for online payment systems, a systems analyst at a pharmaceutical company, a software patent engineer, a law student, and most recently a family law professional. Even in this most recent chapter, my career has evolved — from associate attorney to self-employed attorney to self-employed ADR professional. And the journey is far from over!

By now you're probably wondering what this has to do with Prince. Well, back in 2002, I heard a dance track that sampled a musician talking about his relationship to his work. It's a quote that instantly resonated with me. I'll share a link to the track below, but here's the quote:

Record sales and things like that...it really doesn't matter, ya know. It keeps a roof over your head, and keeps money in all these folks' pockets that I got hangin' around here! (laughs) It basically stems from the music, and I'm just hoping that people understand that money is one thing but soul is another.

It wasn't until many years later that I bothered to look up the quote and learned that it was from a 1985 interview Prince gave for a Detroit disc jockey called Electric Mojo.

"Money is one thing, but soul is another." You don't have to be a musician to identify with these words. It's one of the big messages that we try to give our clients in divorce — don't sacrifice your soul for a few dollars. And it applies to our own relationship to work and money, too. I know what it's like to make a soul-affirming decision about my career, and I've seen the literal tears of relief when others have made the same decision. When you find the strength and resources to take that leap, to put soul over money (which often doesn't even mean sacrificing the money, in the long run), it's a huge deal.

You may not be a huge fan of Prince's music. Maybe you couldn't quite relate to the place he occupied in the universe. But one thing is certain — he sure did know what it meant to be alive.