What makes for a dream job? For many, it means a challenging environment, a work-life balance, a great remuneration package, and work they love doing. But where do you look for these great careers? It’s pretty much a needle in a haystack. Good jobs are now disappearing. And in your hot pursuit for your great career, you might end up in a high-workload, high-stress, bloodsucking, and soul-destroying kind of job.
You will fail, and here’s why.
Larry Smith is a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo. He is well-known for his storytelling and being an advocate for youth leadership, he has mentored numerous students on their career development. In his amusing and blunt Ted Talk, he contends that you will not have a great career and calls out the absurd yet common excuses that people tend to make for it when they fail to pursue their passions.
Here are some of them (extracted from his manuscript):
Convincing yourself that working hard will lead to a great career?
“Ah, but I still want a great career. I’m not prepared to pursue my passion, so I know what I’m going to do, because I have a solution. I have a strategy. It’s the one Mommy and Daddy told me about. Mommy and Daddy told me that if I worked hard, I’d have a good career. So, if you work hard and have a good career, if you work really, really, really hard, you’ll have a great career. Doesn’t that, like, mathematically make sense?” Hmm. Not. But you’ve managed to talk yourself into that.
You know what? Here’s a little secret: You want to work? You want to work really, really, really hard? You know what? You’ll succeed. The world will give you the opportunity to work really, really, really, really hard. But, are you so sure that that’s going to give you a great career when all the evidence is to the contrary?
Passion, interest – it’s not the same thing.
“I have an interest! I have an interest!”
You tell me. You say, “I have an interest!” I say, “That’s wonderful! And what are you trying to tell me?” “Well, I have an interest.” I say, “Do you have passion?” “I have an interest,” you say. “Your interest is compared to what?” “Well, I’m interested in this.” “And what about the rest of humanity’s activities?” “I’m not interested in them.” “You’ve looked at them all, have you?” “No. Not exactly.”
Passion is your greatest love. Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent. Passion, interest — it’s not the same thing. Are you really going to go to your sweetie and say,”Marry me! You’re interesting.”
Won’t happen. Won’t happen, and you will die alone.
Relationships as an excuse now?
“Yes, I would pursue a great career, but, I value human relationships more than accomplishment. I want to be a great friend. I want to be a great spouse. I want to be a great parent, and I will not sacrifice them on the altar of great accomplishment.”
Look at the worldview you’ve given yourself. You’re a hero no matter what.
Do you really think it’s appropriate that you should actually take children and use them as a shield? You know what will happen someday, you ideal parent, you? The kid will come to you someday and say, “I know what I want to be. I know what I’m going to do with my life.” You are so happy. It’s the conversation a parent wants to hear, because your kid’s good in math, and you know you’re going to like what comes next. Says your kid, “I have decided I want to be a magician. I want to perform magic tricks on the stage.”
And what do you say? You say, you say, “That’s risky, kid. Might fail, kid. Don’t make a lot of money at that, kid. I don’t know, kid, you should think about that again, kid. You’re so good at math, why don’t you —”
The kid interrupts you and says, “But it is my dream. It is my dream to do this.” And what are you going to say? You know what you’re going to say? “Look kid. I had a dream once, too, but — But —” So how are you going to finish the sentence with your “but”? “But. I had a dream too, once, kid, but I was afraid to pursue it.” Or are you going to tell him this: “I had a dream once, kid. But then, you were born.”
Do you really want to use your family, do you really ever want to look at your spouse and your kid, and see your jailers? There was something you could have said to your kid, when he or she said, “I have a dream.” You could have said — looked the kid in the face and said, “Go for it, kid! Just like I did.” But you won’t be able to say that, because you didn’t. So you can’t.
You’re afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail. Great friend, great spouse, great parent, great career. Is that not a package? Is that not who you are? How can you be one without the other? But you’re afraid.
And that’s why you’re not going to have a great career. Unless — “unless,” that most evocative of all English words — “unless.” But the “unless” word is also attached to that other, most terrifying phrase, “If only I had …” “If only I had …” If you ever have that thought ricocheting in your brain, it will hurt a lot.
So, those are the many reasons why you are going to fail to have a great career. Unless —
Watch the full video here.