Seth Godin had a couple good posts the last couple days.(http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/04/but-i-dont-want-to-do-that-i-want-to-do-this.html) Now, he talks in artsy marketing fluff speak all the time so my translation might not be his original intention, but it makes sense to me. The idea is, be the one who picks your career path. Not the one who tries to get picked. I can relate to both sides of this idea. I did what I could to get accepted to a good school, WPI, and I worked hard there to get into a good company with a well paying job, I have that now, and now I work hard to hopefully get a promotion and more money, I feel it’s likely. The point is in all of those instances I was or am the one getting picked. I don’t control getting picked. On the other hand my blog, my running, mountain climbing, those are things that I picked to do.
Now, the obvious distinction is that the market picks what people do and what people get paid for. People pick their hobbies and vacations and weekend pursuits. But honestly I think the line is blurring. I had 133 visits and 183 pageviews on Monday April 29th. Picking to do my own thing for the last four years now means that on occasion more than 100 people pick me for more than a minute on one day. I think that’s what Seth was trying to get at, if you pick your path, there is a good chance that eventually people will pick you for picking your own path. But by the time you get picked you probably won’t care too much about it anymore.
It is especially interesting because many of the things the market picks for employment are things that will one day be automated. Picking cotton, horse shoes, drafting, welding, and eventually driving. The alternative, things we pick, are often less easy to automate. A machine can't run for me.
How does this practically apply to anyone? After all, no one is going to quit a good job to run 32 minute 10ks. Well, I am not doing any finite element analysis today. I am spending the whole day in the factory watching machines get built. It is not part of my job requirements or what I am directly paid for, but it will be a valuable experience so I picked it today.