Recently I came across a New York Times opinion piece about challenges facing new college graduates. You can read it here..
The author makes some very good points. For instance, there’s a big disconnect between school and work. The skills you learn in school – follow directions, take tests, study – don’t apply in the real world. These days we are seeing more and more articles about lessons we don’t learn in business school (or any other kind of school).
He goes on to make some very good points about the mindset of young adults. They’re advised to experiment, try new things and – above all – “follow your passion.” As he rightly notes, the best way to identify your passion is to try a lot of different things. Forget the navel-gazing. Forget inner journeys.
I would agree with this one. Early in my life I was marked as a scholarly, studious person who read. I wasn’t naturally gifted at sports; in fact, I accepted the label “uncoordinated” as an immutable fact till I got into my twenties. Then a new friend dragged me to an exercise class. And then I found my own exercise class. And another. I actually got to be good at aerobics (back in the day). Then I took a weight-lifting class…and loved it.
Along the way I lost the “uncoordinated” label.
And now a big part of my identity is about exercise. One day I was wearing my shorts with a t-shirt with a university name, talking to someone about basketball. The other person said, “Oh, did you coach basketball there?”
Me: “:Oh come on. Do I look like a basketball coach?”
Other person: “Frankly, yes.”
It was a proud moment. And that’s part of the reason I get frustrated with traditional views of career coaching. Tests have little correlation with career paths. The research shows most of us find our careers through serendipity.
I’ve created a career planning process based on this idea. Check out the 21-Day Extreme Career Makeover.