Soon I’ll be turning 41, and to celebrate I thought I might share some wisdom on my own experiences in the work force these last 25 years. I see a lot of men these days struggling to find meaningful careers and fulfilling callings. Many wrestle with college debt and look at their dead end jobs wondering, “How did I get here?” The short answer is, the same way we all did, by following a bunch of BS advice from authority figures more interested in promoting the status-Quo then success. The hard truth though is for those of you, and us stuck in the daily grind, we put ourselves here. The good news is since we put ourselves here, we can do something about it.
First, let it go and stop beating yourself up. Yes your job sucks, yes you may be a wage slave, it’s okay. This does not mean you’re doomed to die this way shuffling off to your 9-5 for the next 40 years. The next step to freeing yourself is to recognize and come to grips with where you are now. Then you can start figuring out where to go next.
Second, forget about passion. My current city Durham is filled with passionate young men, many of which spend their days on street corners begging for change. Focus on what you know and can do. Bonus points if you enjoy doing it. Once passion gives way to reality, ability and hard work will pay bills and finance dreams, not passion.
Third, stop wasting time. Get off your phone and sign out of NetFlix. Good things come to those who hustle and bust their ass, not to those who dream and talk a lot of shit. You may have to spend your days working a regular job. It’s okay, spend you evenings and weekends working your hustle. Whether it’s an internet gig or physical project. Most people spend 8-10 hours a day making others money. Spend at least 2 hours a day moving your own plans forward. You can jerk off and drink with your buddies after you’ve taken care of business.
Fourth, find a mentor. Whether its someone inside the company you work for, online, or in your community, find someone who’s good at the thing you want to do. If you’re the smartest most capable person in your circle, you need to expand your circle and thinking. I have struggled all my life with finding teachers and mentors to grow my experience and ability. Most of the craftsman that came before me aren’t interested in passing on that knowledge. We must use the internet to find our own guru’s and leaders and drink it in. Learn how to be a good follower and student before thinking you can be a leader and teacher.
Fifth, focus and work. Many of the most successful people in history all agree that success is hard for men under the age of 40. Why, because they can’t focus! They’re so busy chasing women, fun, and thrills, that they can’t sit in a room for 10 hours with no distractions and just do work. It’s a question of maturity and perspective that I have come to understand all to well over the last 5 years. More on this in another article.
Sixth, education does not equal experience and ability. Read that again and again and again. I do not care what your teachers, professors, and placement aides told you in school, college, or Tech school. Your real education is only beginning once you graduate. There are guys out there in the work force with no degree or fancy piece of paper framed on the wall and I will hire them over a college grad every time. There are a few reasons for this. I’m tired of college grads with zero experience believing they should be supervisors and managers right off the bat. I’m tired of them expecting to make the same wage as those men who have done the job for 20 years right from the beginning. I’m tired of dealing with hurt feeling and self-involved perspectives of young men who’ve never been treated as adults and expected to act like one. Work is not school, you perform or you get fired. It’s as easy as that. You get no credit for just showing up or partially completing tasks. It’s all or nothing guys.
Last, you are not a professional anything unless you’re getting paid. Until your calling or passion pays your rent and feeds you it’s not a career. It’s a hobby. A business is a job, a 24 hour job. Don’t think you’re going to start a business and have it made. If anything you just made life harder than you ever imagined it could be. Why do the majority of businesses fail? Because many new business owners have no concept or appreciation of what work and sacrifice are. They see the benefits and have no grasp of the ugly side of business that goes on in the back of the house. Just as they see athletes winning but neglect to notice the years and years of training and practice that went into that victory.
I will continue more on this subject in the next article and go into more detail about my own career choices and actions that have led me to my own path.