If you think about it, our education system pretty much runs as this ginormous teaching factory. It produces, however imperfectly, millions of somewhat educated high school graduates each year; young people who jumped through all the right hoops to get that high school diploma. Many are graduating this week and congratulations to them! Our system encourages them to show up at the job, listen to and follow instructions, and learn the material according to the institution’s rules, AKA academic norms. It’s a fairly successful system that produces an average workforce. Whether this system is preparing young people for a truly global knowledge-based economy is an interesting topic to debate. The thing is, our education system teaches everyone this: follow our rules and everything will be fine.
This is how Seth Godin put it in his blog today:
We’ve been culturally brainwashed to believe that the factor approach (average products for average people, compliance, focus on speed and cost) is the one and only way. It’s not.
The problem is….some of us don’t want to follow the rules. Some of you refuse to spend 8 hours in a cubicle each day. Some of you academics refuse to play the publishing/tenure game. Or, a lot of you tried to play the game in your employer’s venue, but your heart wasn’t in it so either you didn’t play it well, or you decided the cost to your spirit was simply too high.
And then…some of you played the rules and lost your job/marriage/security anyway.
You see, the dangling carrot of job security is simply an illusion. The only job security that really exists is being your own boss and making sure you consistently add value to the world by being remarkable.
The irony is this: while the world needs you to be remarkable, most people will never support your decision to shine your own light. That’s because they’re too afraid themselves. That’s why we slump and shrink so that other people feel comfortable around us. (Remember how some girls pretended not to be smart in school?)
Be smart and sparkle anyway.
You are unique and have a contribution to make that NO ONE can make for you. You may not know exactly what that contribution is, but if you’re not actively pursuing a remarkable life, then you’re not waking up excited every morning to face the new day.
You don’t have to quit your day job, just know it’s there to serve you, too. Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek is an excellent resource to help you rethink your relationship with your employer. The goal is not self-employment, necessarily. The goal is waking up each day excited about your life. (At least on most days!)
Be remarkable. The world is waiting.