Seth Godin came to Philly and gave a great presentation on his new book, The Dip: A little Book That Teaches you When to Quit (And When to Stick). It was an amazing presentation. The PowerPoint slides were simply pictures that illustrated his points, in that “a picture’s worth a thousand words” way. He uses stories and examples that bring his points to life in a tangible way- I learned as much about great presentation style as I did from content.
One of the main things I am still mulling over eight hours later was prompted by a question in the audience- “If you’re giving this all away for free, how are you making a living? Where does your money come from?” And this struck me as similar to the question I got from the finance major who asked “What is your five year plan?”
And the answers given in both circumstances were remarkably similar. Seth does what he does because he believes in it. It works for him, he’s passionate about it, and other people recognize him as remarkable. He gives ideas away for free, but if someone wants a one on one consultation or a special speaker’s event- that’s expensive. And it works for him. He doesn’t want to be the Walmart of marketing- mass produced but average. Instead, he wants to be special and accessible and exclusive (I mean exclusive in the “Best of the Best” way. Seth is really all about including everyone in the opportunity to be the best at what they do.).
When I was asked about my five year plan, I said there was none, giving the finance major an opportunity to roll his eyes and become immediately dismissive. Yet isn’t being flexible, growing and adapting as need be, and adjusting course as necessary more important that an overall fixed goal? I want to be the best podcaster about learning and learning disabilities around. I don’t want to be the best NBA player, or dogcatcher or nurse. As long as I love what I am doing, I work towards being the best and being remarkable- isn’t that what it’s all about? It certainly gives me more confidence and sense of accomplishment than any day spent doing laundry or filing law suits. Both of those tasks have good and bad points and are within my skill set- but they hardly bring me the joy my podcast does; The joy helping other people does.
In the end, money is at best a poor measure of success. It may be a metric to follow, and I am not adverse to money, but I do know a whole lot of other things make me a lot happier than working at a job just because the salary is great. And feeling like I have another great day ahead of me each morning when I wake up is worth more than just about anything. In fact, it becomes hard to imagine how anything else could matter.
I hope I’ll be able to teach my children the joy of being the best at what they do, and finding what they are best at. Their islands of competence and their unique gifts. Because this sense of feeling whole, useful and successful is better than any drug could possibly be. And being able to face each new day as another adventure, even on those days where you get lost in the brush and come back scraped up and disheveled, is better than safe, boring or soul-robbing jobs will ever be.