Is the “Grown Up” World Where Talent Goes To Die?

Image courtesy of Flickr

Image courtesy of Flickr

I am deep into a book called: No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need To Do To Have a Great Career by Larry Smith. In this book, he asserts that: “the grown-up world is where talent goes to die.” Reading this statement jolted me gratefully inside – as this is something I have come to realize in my own career journey and in the scope of coaching my clients in business.

You may be thinking that this statement is: “harsh” or “an unfair generalization”. Perhaps, you’re right, but I will wager that you are not necessarily wrong, but rather predictable. I say you are predictable rather than wrong, because you belong to a subset of thousands – if not millions of people who believe in a precept of work that is fast becoming a dinosaur. This precept of work includes: Choosing a degree field (preferably something that will allow you to support yourself upon graduation), studying hard even if you hate your field of study, finding an internship where you give your gifts away for free,  only to search for whatever job the economy will loan to you. This my friends is the age old definition of success and job security. The unfortunate outcome of all of this is: The lot of unhappy people and wasted talent living and participating in a society that appears to being conversely impacted by a perceived lack of skilled workers.

While what I just outlined is not indicative of everyone’s career; it is the reality of the majority. Very rarely do I meet someone who says: I love my job and it is allowing me to utilize my full range of talents. In my head, I know of a handful of people in both my personal and professional circles who truly love the work they do. I know that “love” makes people uncomfortable, so let me define what “love” means in this context:

The handful that “love” their work are:

1) Doing work that aligns with their natural talents, interests and passions.

2) Fulfilled by the work, interactions and daily dynamics of the job.

3) Reinforced by having their basic needs for compensation, benefits, flexibility, long-term growth, challenge and continued learning met in return for their efforts.

Most people are not “in love” let alone fulfilled in the way I just described above. Every week, I observe the sentiments about work as we inch towards Friday. Most people, appear to be happiest from Thursday through Saturday. Sunday is a reminder that work starts in 24 hours on Monday – which brings on the inevitable social shares and/or griping about the drudgery that is returning to work. Put plainly, people are miserable and feel stuck.

Coming back to the title of this article which is: Is the “grown-up” world where talent goes to die? Is it true? I think it is. We start children off conditioning them to conform to the world rather than disrupt it. This conditioning often forces them to ignore their interests, innate skills and passions in favor of the road most traveled, lucrative and accepted. In doing this, we ship them off to university to study what seems like the best option for them. Sometimes it works out and other times a pivot emerges to the dissatisfaction of the parents, because of course we are supposed to have our entire life figured out at 22 – how reasonable!

Should we be lucky enough to get a job after graduation, more advice comes our way. The advice is: “Work hard, keep your head down, follow the rules and you will be promoted and successful in no time.” In “no time” is the operative word, because in this current economy promotions seem to be rather elusive and hard or good work is no longer a silver bullet for success on the job. By the time, people look up – they have a home, 2 cars, some kids, a dog, bills and a job that is a terrible fit for their skills and lifestyle; but the bills have to be paid, so onward with more drudgery.

For every person that works a job there is a dream and creativity deferred in the journey towards personal and professional success. We have all been conditioned to believe that holding a job whether it is a passion or not is a badge of honor – your right of passage into adulthood. More money, more bills, and more material effects are just a few of the things that define your adulthood in our current society. The problem with this rat race of superficial success is that it is superficial. Success is subjective and therefore much more to having longevity in your career than the degrees, certifications and clocked years of service.

Agreeing or disagreeing with this statement of talent dying in the grown-up or corporate world doesn’t matter. What matters is that you take a moment to realize what you want your life and contributions to stand for and taking stock of where you are so you can ensure that the two align. Here’s a hint: In the coming decades, success will not be defined by your retirement package, the money in your bank account or the amount of hours you worked – it will be about how you made an impact (however small) in your part of the world.

I spoke about success and what is means to be an adult in the modern world on my Periscope show: Ask Czarina Live. You can watch it below.


31 Days, 32 Revelations: Innovation Ego

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Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 15 of 31- Innovation Ego

I have heard through the grapevine that nothing being done now is either “unique” or “innovative”, but rather many regurgitated versions of someone else’s ideas. There is certainly evidence to suggest that lots of people go around poaching the work of others. However, for the people who are really dedicated to creating something new or give something old a new spin- you can’t deny them their innovation badge of honor. One idea spurs another idea and then another- that is kind of how innovation works.

Let’s be honest, we are influenced by a myriad of people, places, cultures, circumstances over the course of our lives. If you don’t think so you must have been rushed from your mother’s womb to a bubble in another dimension where no one exists; but then again even that experience would influence your view of the world. I believe we become a mosaic of our experiences. Some are hard-coded and other traits, thoughts and practices are things we select for ourselves-because it favors our trajectory in life and facilitates our survival. Let’s take Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung for instance. Freud was the founding father of psychoanalytic concepts in the early 1900’s until he became acquainted with Carl Jung. Carl Jung became a friend and a student of Freud until he endeavored to propose a slightly contrarian analysis and criticism of  Freudian precepts like the”oedipal complex”. Innovation ego of today would assert that Freud said all there was to say about the “oedipal complex” and that Jung was being duplicitous by merely tweaking already established concepts.

The reality is we received a far more refined proposition for the oedipal complex because Jung studied Freud’s concepts and found areas for improvement or better explanations for that behavior. Was Jung innovative- in my opinion yes. Was Freud innovative? For sure. He started it all, but even he had experiences and influences that led him to develop his theories.

Just because you have created something, said something profound or blazed a trail, does not make you the chief innovator for all eternity. The goal should be continuous improvement of all things as necessity requires it. If someone comes along and takes something you did and improves it-that is the completion of the cycle of innovation. By no means, should any founder or talent feel like someone isn’t studying your craft and finding cracks in it that they will someday improve.

From time to time, I’ve heard people say things like: “I wrote about that back in 2008 why is he or she writing about that now or we were talking about how to implement “x” in 2000 this has already been done.” I humbly pay homage to pioneers, because many things wouldn’t be possible without a few good men and women to blaze the trail. However, ego need not take over. Sometimes things need to be said again and again and maybe with a twist and a turn. Just maybe, that tenth or thousandth instance of discussing a topic or reinventing something is exactly what is needed for others to finally get it. So, next time you gurus, ninjas, experts get the gumption to turn your nose up at something you think is old, trite or lacks innovation ask yourself if it is your ego or if the cycle of innovation has been completed by someone adding a new slant or useful thought.


Czarina’s Lesson: There’s no place for ego in innovation.

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