There’s a Monty Python sketch where Michael Palin’s character is an accountant who’s gone to a careers advisor played by John Cleese. The accountant says he’s fed up with being an accountant. He wants to be a lion tamer. The careers advisor says he doesn’t suit such a career. Couldn’t he work his way towards lion-taming via say, banking.
I had the misfortune of going to a careers advisor once. They asked me some dumb questions about exam subjects and then asked what I wanted to be as they had lots of pamphlets on various career paths. Well the answer to that was obvious to this 16 year old. I wanted to be a rock star. So I told her. She shook her head and said I should take this seriously. I was taking it seriously and I asked her where the relevant pamphlet was. There wasn’t one. She advised instead that I join the YTS (the Youth Training Scheme designed for non-academic pupils a bit like an apprenticeship). I said no thanks.
That careers advisor is in our heads, holding us back from what we really should be doing and being ‘realistic’ and pushing us into mediocrity. Think of the jobs that you’ve done and that most people do. They all have job titles, but let’s be honest, most of them mean absolutely nothing. When you or people around you were children I bet you wanted to be a clear-cut interesting profession like an astronaut, doctor, film star, or vet. No-one wanted to be a marketing assistant or sales manager. How did they become them? There’s nothing wrong with any particular job, unless the person doing it isn’t satisfied and is capable of doing more. Then it’s a cage.
Most workplaces don’t know how to deal with talent, it gets in the way. They can’t reward it or promote it and it doesn’t fit into a neat box. That’s why you can’t rely on your job or others to give you satisfaction without you doing something about it yourself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you got paid for doing what you loved doing? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we found the courage to find a way to make that happen?