I love this Venn diagram by Bud Caddell-- it seems to have caught fire on Twitter. To be fair, it's almost a perfect copy of thinking by Jim Collins years ago, which he called the hedgehog concept. I loved the concept then (as applied to corporate strategy) and I love it now (as applied to finding happiness in business careers), because in both cases it made me think.
The more I thought, the more the three circles collapsed (which I believe is where both authors want us to go).
Here's what i mean. First, my intent is to align what I "do well" as much as feasible with "what I want to do". Although we are all endowed with some innate gifts, what we truly "do well" is largely the result of an enormous amount of practice (think the 10,000 hour rule popularized in Gladwell's book Outliers). I try to invest time as much as possible into those skills that "I want to do" better.
This brings me to the "paid to do" circle. This one is much more difficult, since what the world pays for is very specific and and constantly evolving-- and not always exactly what I "do well". But it is what it is. In a Zen-like way (well, I try), I first accept economic reality, then think of ways to uniquely contribute, and then ideally develop ideas that are entirely new.
So for me, staying valuable, relevant, and hopefully cutting-edge is a dance between the commercial state of the world "as is" and what I can uniquely deliver-- either with my current skills or, increasingly for all of us, skills that I have yet to fully develop. If not Nirvana, my intent is to make that tango a joyful search for "hooray".