The non-fiction book I’m reading right now is What Should I do with My Life? and it’s engrossing. The author Po was at a crossroads in life (which I can relate to and decided to see how people dealt with this question. He interviewed dozens of people from all sorts of backgrounds: dot.com-ers, gurus, college career counselors, investment bankers, ex-investment bankers, White House policy makers, and on and on.
He gets them to probe how they’ve dealt with this question and not in a superficial way that’ll produce a recipe for shallow contentment or big bucks. He really seems to listen and ask tough questions, while carefully challenging and encouraging them to eliminate the b.s. and really look at their lives.
Last night I read about three women who’d all changed careers frequently. One was a “Boom Wrangler,” who’d gone from one fast-paced trend-setting enterprise to another, the other worried that she was a “Change Junkie,” whose early life of constant moving and a rotation of fathers doomed her to impermanence and a “Phi Beta Slacker,” whose ability and expectations for achievement and success led her from one great opportunity to the next (great schools, cool, high-level jobs) but never touched her core.
As someone who’s changed a lot more than I ever expected, who’s constantly searching for my niche the question fascinates me. We must look at this carefully and honesty and Po Bronson, the author is so good at helping people do that.
He finds others who grapple with the “Where Should I do What I Should Do?” question as well. He tries to get a handle on the need for passion and discovers that lots of people who are passionate about their work have plenty of boring days and dissatisfaction with parts of their job, but the meaning or mission resonates and so they stay.
He sees the conventional success narrative with each “next step” offering more money, more success, while he offers an alternative narrative where each “‘next’ brings one closer to finding the spot where one’s not held back by [lack of] heart, one explodes with talent, where character blossoms, and gifts become apparent.”
Is there an HR address for that?