The TV host talks bringing dirty jobs to a new audience and the value of purpose over passion.
When it comes to highlighting hard-working people of America, ones who do “dirty,” thankless, dangerous jobs, TV host Mike Rowe knows, Somebody’s Gotta Do It.
That’s the new title of Rowe’s docuseries on Trinity Broadcasting Network. Formerly known as Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel, Somebody’s Gotta Do It will now air its half-hour episodes on Saturdays. Rowe, a former Guideposts magazine cover star, has been open about modeling his career as a TV personality after his grandfather, a salt of the earth kind of man who loved to work with his hands and instilled in Rowe an appreciation for grunt work – jobs that took a skilled hand and determined mind.
Each week, Rowe turns the spotlight over to everyday people like military aircraft carrier workers and the road crews in California, traveling two-lane highways up the sides of mountains creating avalanches on purpose so loose rocks won't come down randomly and smash cars.
“Ultimately, with Somebody's Gotta Do It, I just look for people who wake up agitated because the world isn't the way they want it, or because they're just so intuitively helplessly purpose driven. They have no choice but to do what they do,” Rowe explains.
Of course, moving to a new network meant reexamining the show’s themes to fit a new audience. Rowe was worried he’d have to drastically alter episodes to squeeze in more faith. He didn’t need to be.
“It's funny, it really wasn't difficult to do at all,” Rowe says.
In fact, blending more faith into the show allowed the series’ host to contemplate the nature of passion versus purpose, something he discovered was integral to what the show was trying to accomplish.
“Faith is, I think by definition, inherently spiritual. Passion is not. You can be not a religious person, or maybe not even a faithful person, but you can be passionate,” Rowe explains. “I typically wind up talking about the trap of pursuing your passion, as opposed to passionately pursuing an opportunity. In other words, passion is not honest always. There's nothing inherently great about passion.”
Instead, it’s purpose he hopes to highlight to a new audience on the network.
“When you find people with purpose, they're almost always interesting. Because they're taking their marching orders from someplace else, and I'm always curious about where that place might be.”
This idea of purpose is something that’s taken up Rowe’s thoughts for a long time. The TV show host regularly gives talks about the value of vocational training and the growing problem we’re seeing in younger generations joining the workforce. According to Rowe, it’s not that they’re lazy or entitled, it’s that they’ve been fed a misleading narrative on what it means to succeed.
“We've said that people who are happy in their work have successfully identified their passion, pursued it, caught it, and lived it. Likewise, people who find their soulmates went on some great epic search for love, and through some miracle found the one person on the planet with who[m] they can be happy. This is a very basic way of thinking, and I believe it's a trap,” Rowe says.
In fact, Rowe encounters the exact opposite when he meets people on his show.
“I meet people who by and large don't follow their passion. They're passionate people, but what they do is they look around and they say, ‘Where is everyone going? I will go in the other direction,’ and they do. Those people find success, by identifying opportunity, then figuring out a way to become passionate about the jobs that exist, and then finding a way to be great at them,” Rowe continues. “I think the key to being happy isn't to sit in a vacuum and try to imagine what your passion is. I think the key is to get out into the world and try as many things as you can with an open mind and do everything passionately. Identify an opportunity, and then put your heart and soul in it.”
A simpler job Rowe has taken on with Somebody’s Gotta Do It is to just provide some quality entertainment to families tired of the slog of bad news they see on TV.
“I sold Dirty Jobs in the exact same way I sold Somebody’s Gotta Do It 10 years later,” Rowe says. “I walked into the executive's office in 2003 and said, ‘Look, this is exhausting. Every time I turn on cable television I see bulging veins and spittle flying, and angry people screaming at each other. I get it. There's great money in dividing the country and keeping people angry, but I don't want to do that. I want to do a show that celebrates hard working men and women who do the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.’”