03-20-13

exposing the lie of careers

Amer­ica is the land of oppor­tu­nity. If you work hard enough, you can be any­thing you want to be. There’s a lot of truth to that. When we boil it down, our soci­ety has 3 gen­eral cat­e­gories of suc­cess­ful careers. You have lawyers, doc­tors, and busi­ness exec­u­tives. I hap­pen to per­son­ally know one such person…it’s my dad.

Ya, he worked his way all the way up from low­est man on the totem pole, to a suit-​​wearing exec­u­tive who was president/​VP of mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies, trav­elled the world, went to fancy par­ties in tuxe­dos, and made six fig­ures. He had it made. He had arrived to a spot only most dream about. Well, he doesn’t do that any­more. Now he owns his own win­dow clean­ing com­pany and offers his ser­vices as a quad-​​lingual interpreter.

I was on the path to busi­ness exec­u­tive. I’m very early in the jour­ney but it was clear to many that I’d attain it. It didn’t take me long to real­ize that with advance­ment came a lot of respon­si­bil­ity and worst of all, STRESS! I work for the best and biggest com­pany in my field, and even then there’s a lot of flaws. I began ask­ing around to see what oth­ers thought who were climb­ing the lad­der and all at dif­fer­ent lev­els. The answers were all pretty much the same. “Yes, it’s a lot respon­si­bil­ity.“
“Yes, there’s more stress.” “If I can only reach a cer­tain rung, then it’ll be smooth sail­ing.” “It’s just busy for this sea­son, things will slow down in such and such time.”

Those answers might be ok if these peo­ple were just get­ting started with their careers, but the real­ity is they’ve been at it for 10, 15, 20yr and they’re all at dif­fer­ent rungs and all say­ing the same thing. So what am I to think? That my cir­cum­stance is going to turn out dif­fer­ently? That every­one with­out excep­tion is say­ing the same thing, but I’m going to be the excep­tion!? I’m not naïve, my fate will be no different.

So, back to my dad. We talked about how careers are over­rated and my idea of start­ing my own com­pany. Here’s what my dad had to say. “You’re right.” Being a busi­ness exec­u­tive, my dad had lots of busi­ness exec­u­tive friends. He told me that most of them finally fig­ured out the same thing I had, and now they all run their own busi­nesses. Do they all have the same lux­u­ries they use to? Not all of them, but they’re all a lot happier.

Careers give us a false sense of secu­rity. It’s no more secure than run­ning your own busi­ness. If any­thing, you have more con­trol over your secu­rity when you run the show. Life is a lot sim­pler. Careers are over­rated. If you know some­one that can prove me oth­er­wise, let me know.