Imagine: You’re walking the grey corridors of a corporate block. Your host in the stuffy suit turns to you and says, “And in this cubicle is Mr John Bon Jovi, our finest accountant. Funny story actually; he used to talk about becoming a “Rock Star.” Fortunately, we talked some sense into him. Yep, John did the responsible thing! Say hello, John. Good boy! Now catch the peanut.”
As a society, we are a good three decades down the line from the death of lifetime employment. Yet curiously, we continue to perpetuate the notion that jobs represent security.
We argue that a job is ‘safe.’ May I take a moment to speak on behalf of the human soul? What is safe about forcing yourself to spend three-quarters of your waking life pursuing something you resent? That sounds remarkably dangerous to me.
In fact, here’s the worst career advice you will ever hear: ‘Study something that people need… like IT.’ Why is this well-meant thinking the potential ruination of a human life? Because anything that can be systemized or outsourced to Asia has low value. Learn it by all means. But understand that selling it is getting cheaper. Original thinking is becoming more valuable.
As Steve Jobs tried to tell us, we get so morbidly hung up on college degrees and corporate jobs that we forget to think originally. We all scurry to be the minions trained to install and service Bill Gates’ programmes… rather than wanting to actually be Bill Gates.
We even indulge in that odd compromise, in which we tell our children that they can do whatever they want with their lives – ‘follow your dreams, by all means!’ – just as soon as they’ve spent eight years studying to be a doctor and built up so much momentum in that direction that it’s impossible ever to do anything else.
By way of contrast, did you know that one of the highest celebrity earners of all time, well ahead of anyone you’ve ever met with a conventional job, was Charles Schultz, the author of Peanuts? Snoopy’s dad was a financial mega-success. And what he did for a living was to draw a three-panel comic-strip each day.
But perhaps money isn’t everything to you. How about a career that allows you to travel; see the world?
Television’s Travel Channel has a young woman who thought differently, and won herself the perfect career. She wanted to host a travel show, but had absolutely no qualifications.
Then inspiration struck: “What if I traveled to different locations around the world, gathered up some of the locals, and went skinny-dipping in the lakes? No one’s ever done that before!” Today, she is the host of an internationally syndicated television show cheekily titled ‘Skinny Dip.’
Before you willingly concede to the group-think delusion, and allow the neurosis of others to pressure you into committing three-quarters of your waking life to doing something that you hate, in the misguided pursuit of security, pause for a moment. Look up at the horizon. There is more available. But only to those who are willing to think originally. And who are brave enough to act on their vision.