I recently received an interesting article from Taylor Pearson, a personal coach and business consultant down in Austin, Texas. I thought it was an interesting take on personal growth regarding work and business. I know a lot of friends and family who say they feel stuck and or constantly searching for financial reward. As I travel along my journey in life, I see a small number of folks who really get it. These birds tend to fly in a slightly different manner, they can quickly adjust and adapt to change, the can quickly hone their skills, zero in on a target, and execute! Then there’s the majority, those that are great at following directions, doing what they are told, yet going home ever night thinking there could be more. Unfortunately, most of these folks get stuck in this cycle of following directions and dreaming, not creating and doing. They are slow to make big changes, slow to take big risks, and slow at getting to execution. The article by Pearson, made me stop and think, at the same time further confirms my belief that it’s “nurture” not “nature” that defines how we individually tend to attack work and business. Perhaps if we can acknowledge it’s how we are raised and or trained from a young age, we can overcome some of the barriers and de-program the bad and re-install the good. I’ve include a few portions of the article below. I hope you find it interesting and thought provoking. Certainly something I’m passing along to my kids.
~ Written by Taylor Pearson
Horace Mann, often credited as the father of the modern education system, began opening The Common School in the 1830s. The purpose of the Common School was to teach students how to follow directions effectively so they would be prepared for factory work.
A few years after the first Common School opened, Mann couldn’t find enough “normal” teachers to help make the students “common.” So, Mann opened the first Normal School, where teachers were trained before going to teach classes at the Common School. In the rapidly industrializing world of the 1830s, the economy needed “normal” teachers to train students to be “common”.
In the 1830s, this made sense. Factory workers were in demand and being trained to be common or normal was a way the government could help people advance. We needed to train individuals to do what they were told, sit still, listen to instructions, and repeat.
What is valuable today is not learning how to be normal or common, but the opposite: developing a unique, uncommon skill set that is in high demand. The internet has massively broadened the possible space of careers by allowing you to scale almost any niche obsession or interest.
The trouble with figuring out a “unique skillset” is that it’s unique, so how do you do it?
The first mistake people make with this question is they ask “What am I passionate about?” The reality is that the more emphasis you place on finding work you love, the more unhappy you become when you don’t love every minute of the work you have. It creates an unrealistic expectation that can’t possibly be met.
No one spends every moment at their work in a state of unperturbed bliss. What the research shows is that a fulfilling career requires three things:
Autonomy – The desire to be self-directed.
Mastery – The urge to get better skills.
Purpose – The desire to do something that has meaning and is important.
So, if you’re not quite sure what to do with your life, putting yourself in a position to get autonomy, mastery, and purpose is a good starting point.
The good news is that the way you get autonomy and purpose is actually through mastery.
This is called the career capital theory of great work and it goes as follows:
The traits that make a great career great is that you master something both rare and valuable. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital. Once you acquire enough career capital, you can leverage that to get a large degree of autonomy. If you are the best in the world at something, then you get to dictate the terms of the engagement.
The happiest, most purpose-filled employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become really good at what they do.
In other words, You have to be so good they can’t ignore you! You have to try and become the best at something specific.
This strategy is difficult, but that’s also why it’s highly rewarded. Almost no 12-year-old who dreams of playing professional football actually makes it. It’s also a lot of pressure because you have to figure out that one thing pretty early in your life. Tiger Woods was hitting golf balls for two hours per day at 3 years old (If you’re at the point where you are reading articles on the internet about what to do with your life, I regret to inform you that your on the wrong path). You have to be doing!
The world today rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by being the best and creating a mix of skills and traits that no one else has. … It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills that place them in the top-25 percent in each category.
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