They say it takes ten years to become an expert at something, granted the number of hours required to become a master something depends on the complexity, say neurosurgery vs. celebrity gossip e.g. (look at udemy’s infographic here). What it means is, what I am getting at is that in a lifetime a person can do at least 3 to 4 different things excellently, given desire and drive of course.
Here’s why I’m pursuing this stream of thought. I have been in the ‘job market’ for eight years now. After eight years I realize I have lost my way. I don’t know where I’m going, why I’m doing what I’m doing and what is, to-use-corporatese, the ‘key takeaway’. To put things very simplistically we work so we make money so we eat and do whatever else in life that interests us. But modern job market isn’t the same anymore. Since jobs have expanded to overflow strict time boundaries and overlap with every other aspect of our lives, it has become important to assign them a ‘higher’ purpose. You don’t have jobs anymore, you have ‘careers’. If you work in a big, multinational organization, career becomes the holy grail. I suspect we have all been brainwashed somewhat.
About a month ago, I approached a senior manager in my organization for advice on advancing my career. I put on the table my various interests, the things I would like to try, some of them completely tangential to what I do now. The advice I got: “play to your strengths”, with further emphasis on doing something which is in line with my education (I’m an engineer which according to this line of advice automatically disqualifies me from doing something with a bit more creativity involved) and my experience (data, numbers, analysis, project management). In terms of mainstream corporate career-oriented thinking, it is sound advice. But it left me thinking, if humans in general and I in particular are designed to do the same thing over and over again? How does this fit with natural curiosity and a need to have diverse experiences? Very simplistically it means if you say sweep the city streets, the maximum you can aspire to driving the cleaning cart down the main boulevard. This completely invalidates the idea of what I think as ‘bridging experiences’. I agree you can’t just jump from one thing to an entirely different one, but you can always work towards what you aspire to through a series of incremental logical steps.
Just another one of my various and frequent monologues on how the modern workplace isn’t essentially in sync with who we are as human beings.