A World of Opportunity



  1. You have passion for your work.

    To actively and positively enjoy your career is the single largest step you can take toward your ultimate success and no exertion is too great to move you toward this indispensable condition.

    But surely this advice is too idealistic for today's economic environment! Of course, I want a career I like, but with today's tight job market I have to be realistic and recognize that I face limited choices. I have to find a job I can do and that the marketplace values. Then, if I happen also to like the work, I can think of it as a stroke of luck. Besides, all I really want is job with big bucks. However, this entire analysis is exactly wrong.

    It is true that the job market is much more competitive than in the past and it is going to remain so for the indefinite future. But that is exactly the point. A highly competitive job market demands more people who enjoy their work, not fewer. Because the market is more competitive, the standards of job performance are rising. To secure good employment, it is no longer sufficient to be just adequately competent; it is now necessary to have a special edge to your capabilities. How do you gain that extra degree of skill? Naturally, you study harder to better prepare yourself. But do you think you will be able to study long enough and effectively enough a subject you do not enjoy? Keep in mind that to achieve mere adequacy, the workload you will face can, in most cases, be brutal. Unless you can tap the energy that arises from enjoyment, you most likely will fail to achieve the effort necessary for distinction.

  2. In order to prepare for your work, you enjoy your studies.

    Your entire education will be wasted - academically, socially and psychologically - if you fail to satisfy the first priority of university life. You must enjoy your course of studies. You must enjoy most of your individual courses and you must revel in the mysteries of your core discipline, your chosen career. To say you enjoy your program means you find it interesting, fascinating, engrossing, challenging, stimulating, exciting and deeply satisfying. It does not mean you can merely tolerate your program; it does not mean you accept it as the least objectionable alternative. (Of course, there may be a few courses you merely tolerate).

    Also, since your marks are based partly on a comparative ranking with your colleagues in the same discipline, do you really think you will be able to compete successfully with someone who reads their textbook for "fun"? Finally, all academic disciplines and careers involve important insights that are not susceptible to brute effort. On the contrary, these insights flow from the kind of intimate appreciation of which only the committed fan is capable. The hard fact is that unless you enjoy your course of studies, your ability to succeed in today's competitive job market is gravely weakened.

  3. If you have not yet found your passion, you keep looking.

    You read at least one book a week, one new magazine and talk to one new person. You select your courses across a wide range, whether or not they constitute a recommended program. You search for your passion methodically and aggressively. You find your dreams; your dreams do not find you.

  4. Finding your passion and choosing your career takes great care and thought.

    Except for choosing a moral framework and a spouse, no decision is more important to your well being than deciding on your life's work. On this decision rests the freedom that comes with adequate financial means and the satisfaction that arises from work that is enjoyed. However, it is becoming steadily more difficult to identify the career that best meets an individual's interests and needs. Rapidly changing social and technological conditions mean that some careers become altered almost beyond recognition, that other careers that were thriving become dead-ends, and that new career choices are being created every day. Today's competitive marketplace tends to be unforgiving if a person makes a career mistake'. Therefore, in these circumstances in which there is great opportunity, much confusion and some risk, an individual cannot settle for anything less than the most complete analysis of any career choice, especially with regard to how future changes may affect it.

  5. Choosing a career requires you to look into the future, at least for 50 years.

    If you do not wish to exert yourself to think about the future (a difficult task) or you believe that the future is unknowable, your career success will be a function of blind luck. And make no mistake, you will have to be lucky.

  6. Competition is causing the standard of performance to rise and it will continue to do so. And all the performance measures are rising.

    Once upon a time, you could secure an entry to professional/managerial employment with a generally applicable education. Now you need a highly focused education, sometimes with an advanced degree. Tomorrow you will need focus and breadth and often an advanced degree or other certification.

    Once, you needed to show no particular interest in your work, only a willingness to work hard for your pay. Now, you must show genuine interest in your work. Tomorrow, you will have to demonstrate passion.

    Once, you needed only to talk about your initiative. Now, you need to show evidence of initiative before you even begin your career. Tomorrow your record of initiative must begin from the first year of secondary school.

    Once, you needed little experience to start. Now you are expected to have relevant experience. Tomorrow you will need even more.

    Once, your communication skills had to ensure you could make yourself clearly understood. Now you need to communicate with eloquence and style. Tomorrow, you will have to be powerfully persuasive.

    Once, your interpersonal skills had to make you no more not better than a compliant team-player. Now you are expected to maintain harmonious and effective relationships in many different circumstances. Tomorrow, you keep the team functioning smoothly no matter what the circumstances.

    And for those already in employment, the standards also rise.

    Once, you just took orders. Now you had to give yourself orders.

    Once, you had to solve the problem you were given. Then you had to solve a problem if you saw it. Then you had to find problems and solve them. Now you have to find opportunities and harvest them.

    Once, you advanced in your career if you got old. Then you had to have a track record of accomplishing routine tasks. Then you needed a track record showing initiative. Now you need a plan for the future.

    Once, you were flexible if you changed jobs a couple of times. Then you were flexible if you changed jobs or careers. Now you are adaptable to multiple jobs and several careers. Tomorrow, there are no fixed jobs or careers.

    Once, you followed the manual of administration exactly. Now you had to offer suggestions for improvement. Tomorrow you will be a continuing source of new ideas.

    Once, a new idea meant an iteration of an older idea. Now it means a break with the older idea. Tomorrow it will mean a radical departure from past practice.

    All work is becoming entrepreneurial: taking more initiative, setting independent goals and creating improvements or innovations.


  7. Even though the shift to higher standards of entrepreneurial work is dictated by the marketplace, note that not all businesses appreciate or full appreciate this trend. They may say they want entrepreneurial workers and then treat them like foot soldiers. But you must look to the direction of the marketplace, not to that of an individual employer. Otherwise, you abdicate responsibility for career success to someone else.

    Remember that the marketplace is more powerful than any employer; if you must choose, choose the more powerful (and find employment elsewhere).

  8. There is no shortage of work.

    There may on occasion be a general shortage of jobs and particular jobs are always disappearing. But those are shortages of jobs, not work to be done.

    How can there be a shortage of work in a world of stupidity, failure, disease, accident, pain, unhappiness, ignorance, betrayal, boredom and death? The challenge of work is to find a feasible solution to one of 10 million problems, to raise the resources to implement the solution and to persuade people to use the solution. That is work, entrepreneurial work. Soon there will be no other kind of work.

  9. Shortage of Skilled Workers.

    Given unlimited work to do, there is a shortage of workers with the necessary skills and attitude to do entrepreneurial work. The shortage will grow worse as society's adjustments lag the demands of the marketplace.

  10. A few workers are preparing for yesterday's competition. Most are preparing for today's competitive pressures. The elite workers are preparing for tomorrow's competition.

    If your preparations for career consist only of academic success and a few reasonable co-op or summer jobs, you invite failure.

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