It’s hard enough to find a job to pay the bills once you’ve graduated from college. But what about finding a career that you’ll love? It’s silly to rely on your dream job being handed to you once you’ve earned your diploma. Knowing what it takes to grab your professional life by the reigns is more than half of the battle.
Professor Larry Smith from the University of Waterloo is an authority on this subject. His wildly popular TEDx Talk “Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career” has over 3 million views on YouTube and both his eccentric presentation and ideas lead him to write his book No Fears, No Excuses that expands on the themes highlighted in his lecture. He believes that the only obstacles in the way of getting a great career are the excuses that you create for yourself in order to not succeed. So what are these excuses? His answers might be a bitter pill for you to swallow.
As it turns out, the prospect of leading a normal and fulfilling life can be a roadblock on your path to notoriety in your chosen field. “The most common excuse includes a fervent, and sometimes aggressive, declaration of commitment to spouse and family. It is the excuse that tries to make itself immune from challenge,” says Smith. “After all, who could object to putting a child above all else. Of course, it is an excuse since unless you are a workaholic, there is no need to sacrifice family on the altar of career success. You just have to be creative, and determined. And you are therefore simultaneously a wonderful role model to any child in your care.”
Another common excuse is telling yourself that you are not as exceptional or as eccentric as some of the world’s greatest innovators. When you’ve convinced yourself that you were not born with that special DNA needed to break down barriers, you will always play it safe and stay within your lane. This is a poisonous mindset to have and one you should try to wipe clean from your consciousness since there is little that separates you from the most creative minds of the world. “The majority of people I know who have great careers are normal,” explains Smith “except for their determination to enjoy every minute of their life.”
So what compromises can you make between your work life and your personal life in order to have it all? “There is no need to make significant compromises to achieve a rich personal life and a great career. That's what the world tells you, and that is wrong. Instead, you need to plan carefully and creatively. You need to deliver great value to the world; and when you do, the world will accommodate you. You must ask yourself: in what domain can I be an innovator? And then prepare yourself to do so successfully.”