The economist Larry Smith takes a hard look at career and passion and talks harder on the choice made by us.
Larry Smith, an economist by training, does not let us in on whether he has a great career, but his talk is on why we fail to have great careers.
Pacing the stage at a hectic speed, the professor delivers his talk “There are great jobs and great careers, and then there are the high-workload, high-stress, bloodsucking, soul-destroying kind of jobs, and practically nothing in between. So the people looking for good jobs are going to fail. I'm going to talk about those looking for great jobs, great careers, and why you're going to fail. First reason is that no matter how many times people tell you, ‘If you want a great career, you have to pursue your passion, you have to pursue your dreams, you have to pursue, the greatest fascination in your life’, you hear it again and again and then you decide not to do it.
“I'm not quite sure why you decide not to do it. You’re too lazy to do it. It’s too hard. You’re afraid if you look for your passion and don’t find it, you’ll feel like you’re an idiot, so then you make excuses about why you're not going to look for your passion. And they are excuses, ladies and gentlemen. We're going to go through a whole long list, your creativity, and thinking of excuses not to do what you really need to do if you want to have a great career.”
Would you marry your “sweetie”, just because you are interested?
So, he says, interest and passion are not the same. You have several interests and among them that which takes most of your time and thought is your passion…go discover it.
We give reasons like lucky people have a great career or they are different “special” people or are “obsessive”, “weird” or “almost mad” who have a great career. Here he says something so true and so poignant about what most of us would say, “When I was five, I thought I was a genius, but my professors have beaten that idea out of my head long since.”
Our mommy and daddy gave us the wrong teaching: that if you work hard you have a good career and by logic if you work very, very hard you have a great career.
Smith assures you that it does not make sense, except mathematically, but that we have convinced ourselves that it is true.
Smith deliberates on the greatest excuse: “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.”
So, he asks do you plan to tell your child not to pursue his or her dream because, “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, 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 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.”
The only thing that can compete with the above is the use of the phrase, “If only I had..”
Smith says there are many reasons why we are going to fail to have a great career…unless…and unless…