All of Bourne’s enemies, as well as his potential allies, are colleagues of one kind or another, and his very existence is a horrifying reductio ad absurdum of life on the corporate treadmill.
People don’t read these books to find out how to be better human beings. People read them to figure out how to become the kind of human being the workplace is looking for.
What if, instead of teaching women that they have to raise their hands to speak at meetings, we taught men to be more reflective and circumspect; instead of telling women to tamp down their emotions at the office, a man was told that he didn’t appear committed enough to the job because he’s never shed tears over it; instead of pushing women to take public credit for their work, we publicly admonish men who don’t properly acknowledge others’ contributions? I was just invited to a seminar on public speaking skills for women — where’s the class on listening skills for men?
You know, I suck so much more than I’ve thought that I should at forty-six. I hate not knowing what I should be doing. I don’t mind not being where I’m going, but I hate not knowing where I should be going.
I and a few dozen folks I work with read Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0. Good stuff. The assessment results tell me that my top strengths/themes are: Restorative®, Intellection®, Ideation®, Input®, and Relator®. Basically, I like fixing things; stockpiling ideas and connecting them; and sticking with people I’m close with. Sounds pretty fair, and there’s much more depth on each of those in the book and in their online thingy. At the very least, it explains why I love my job as much as I do. Also has some good ideas to invest in those strengths for TrueUltimatePower®. I was a bit skeptical, but it’s worth a read!
Avoiding burnout is difficult to write about, because the basic premise is obnoxious. Burnout is a rich man’s game.
Recently I’ve been thinking that when you’re younger, you need to say yes to everything; then, when you’re older, you need to learn how to say no to everything. I don’t mean younger in age, but as a step in your profession.
I particularly hate that phrase about women “wanting to have it all.” Because that’s not about women, it’s about humans. The humans want to have it all! Blame the fucking humans who situated themselves halfway between the beasts and the gods and then discovered it was an uneasy place to be.
A person can only have so much expertise, but if you can sell your ignorance and ability to root out answers, you’ll be employable forever, understood frequently, and relatable always.
I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, “Hey, I need some time to recover.” But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout. Without that period, there would have been so many phone calls and so many people putting pressure on me from every direction—so many people I somehow owed something to—and I would have never had the time to do what I wanted to.
Students tend to place too much importance on the specifics of a job, as if there was a specific knowledge work pursuit hardwired in their genes.
Here are some things to consider that, in my experience, you’re less likely to hear about working in startups.
Good essay. I’ve been thinking this for a while:
Startups are portrayed as an exciting, risky, even subversive alternative to traditional corporate work. Startups are thought of as more free, more open and flexible. Some companies surely begin that way, but a few interviews at later-stage startups will make clear just how quickly they ossify into structures that look very much like the organizations that came before them.
As there was in the first dot com bubble, there is a current proliferation of startups, incubators, accelerators, angel/seed funding, and so forth. In order for the “startup community” to replicate itself, nanobot-like, the mechanics of “doing a startup” have been reduced to an easily transmitted sequence of actions accompanied by a shared set of values, norms, and language.
Career is never as important as family. The better you are at your job, the more you’re rewarded, financially and spiritually, by doing it. You know how to solve problems for which you receive praise and money. Home life is more chaotic. Solving problems is less prescriptive and no one’s applauding or throwing money if you do it right. That’s why so many young professionals spend more time at work with the excuse, “I’m sacrificing for my family.” Bullshit. Learn to embrace the chaos of family life and enjoy the small victories.
Management is a total career restart.
I think every kid wants to rebel against their parents and my parents are cool, artistic, creative people. So my way to rebel was to take the academic route. I always wanted to go to college and go to law school.
Many people today find it easy to use the vocabulary of entrepreneurialism, whether they are in business or social entrepreneurs. This is a utilitarian vocabulary. How can I serve the greatest number? How can I most productively apply my talents to the problems of the world? It’s about resource allocation.
People are less good at using the vocabulary of moral evaluation, which is less about what sort of career path you choose than what sort of person you are.
In whatever field you go into, you will face greed, frustration and failure. You may find your life challenged by depression, alcoholism, infidelity, your own stupidity and self-indulgence. So how should you structure your soul to prepare for this? Simply working at Amnesty International instead of McKinsey is not necessarily going to help you with these primal character tests.
[…] It’s worth noting that you can devote your life to community service and be a total schmuck. You can spend your life on Wall Street and be a hero. Understanding heroism and schmuckdom requires fewer Excel spreadsheets, more Dostoyevsky and the Book of Job.