Wednesday, October 27, 2010 9:29 AM
There was a quote in The Social Network last night that struck me. I can’t remember it verbatum, but it sounded like the title of this blog post:
Invent your job, don’t look for one.
The context of The Social Network movie of course is Harvard students who create a revolution in social media and earn crazy money in the process. It’s a similar pattern to another software company from a few decades ago called Microsoft (interestingly, there’s a scene where Bill Gates is doing a presentation at Harvard to students…not the real one, but a pretty good facsimile).
I can’t even remember where in the movie I heard this quote, but it stuck with me. It’s a sentiment that’s been touted recently what with the recession and all. Even before the recession, small to medium sized businesses really formed the veins and arteries of our economy, pushing much needed commerce through our economic systems. Yet I bet if you asked students going to college what their goal was after graduating, it would be very similar: get a good job. I wonder how many of them would actually say something like “I want to invent something”, or “I want to start a business in this field”, or “I’m going to tackle this problem”.
The existing system of the last century is very much still intact when it comes to career paths, and yet there’s an undercurrent that fights against this and produces millionaires and billionaires, solves difficult problems, and creates new industries or catapults existing ones into the future.
That’s one side of it – the road of creating an opportunity out of nothing, forming the foundation and framing the vision while executing. But there’s another side also, which has the same approach but with an established target – truly inventing your job, your position, and your role within an existing company.
Many people will look to the classified ads to see what companies are looking for, then try to mold themselves into whatever shaped peg needs to fit into the hole. The biggest problem with this is that people might mold themselves into something they aren’t, or something they truly aren’t happy/fulfilled with.
Instead of taking this typical approach, why not look at it from a needs perspective: recognize what need an organization has and pitch yourself and your skills as a way to meet that need. Jerome Young wrote a great article for Forbes that talks about some tactics in this approach, and it really does make sense. Why just fill a chair and play the rat race when you can do meaningful work and be a force for true change within an organization?
Does either of the paths talked about take work, sacrifice, and seldom results in instant victory or gratification? Of course…but in the long run, in this marathon that is life, I know I don’t want to look back and have regrets that I just filled a chair and settled for “a job”.