Readers of this blog know that Wordamour is a big fan of Daniel Pink, especially his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. Well, I’ve had his The Adventures of JohnnyBunko: The Only Career Guide You’ll Ever Need on my bookshelf for two years and only got around to reading it the other day. All I can say is, Wow. A manga and actually a fairly quick read, Mr. Pink uses the travails of Johnny Bunko in his first post-college job to show the path to success post-millenium. Let me tell you right now: check your previous notions about career advice at the door; you won’t be needing them.
As a result, this labor dayweekend has me thinking a great deal about issues of life and work or, “life’s work” which is where Mr. Pink comes in. Johnny Bunko will now be paired with Whole New Mind, as the book set I give all new graduates of high school and college in my life. And will become the new bible I exhort anyone coming of age in the 21st century and anyone teaching, parenting, or mentoring those people to read.
I’m not giving anything away when I say that in both books Pink describes the ultimate paradigm shifts that have occured with the dawn of the millenium, shifts that mean that a lot of the advice we grew up with is well, wrong, and won’t serve anyone well in the future.
What is this shift? I don’t want to summarize. I want you to read the book.
You may be wondering–why do you care so much about this subject? You’ve already got what seems like a pretty good, stable career.
That’s just it. I do feel blessed to have a career I truly,truly love, a career that came through following many of Pink’s principles intuitively and almost accidentally, before I even knew they existed. It was a kind of combination of intuitive persistence and pure dumb luck. After all, I only discovered A Whole New Mind two years ago. I want my students, my kids, my nieces and nephews, to have the same opportunities for satisfaction in their lives. I don’t want them to settle for something they have little interest in but that “pays the bills”–for as Pink wisely notes, settling in the 21st century for work that does not suit your strengths and your passions, is a recipe for disaster and ultimately, failure.
On an only somewhat tangential note, I was diagnosed over the summer with a mild form of Essential Tremor Disorder. I have an intentional tremor in my left hand, primarily my thumb and forefinger, and the beginnings of one in my right. I had sort of ignored it for the past several years–so long, in fact, that I can’t pinpoint when it started–but when my husband noticed it and became concerned, I figured maybe I should get it checked out (well, actually, he gently insisted). One GP, one neurologist and a ridiculously expensive cat scan later (to rule out other worse disorders that shall not be named) the diagnosis came in.
Now like I said, it’s pretty mild right now and hopefully will stay that way for most of my life. Most people wouldn’t even notice it; my husband did because he lives with me. But let’s just say you wouldn’t want me operating on you. Or even doing your dental work. I’m just not steady of hand. A big clue should have been when I started taking commuter cups to work, conferences and meetings to hold my coffee a few years back, because plain old coffee mugs or worse teacups–anything without a lid–seemed likely to spill.
Fortunately, this really isn’t a problem in my line of work. But I can’t help wondering–what if I was a surgeon or a dentist or an artist who did very fine, detailed work? I’m only 43–presumably I have another several decades of career ahead of me–what would I do if I couldn’t do the one thing I had prepared for my whole life, with years of school? It’s a sobering thought.
It’s actually a relatively common disorder, affecting one in 10. And so hereditary that another name for it is “familial tremor.” My grandfather had it, my uncle (a doctor, but not a surgeon) has it and each of my kids has a fifty fifty chance of developing it. Definitely something we’ll have to keep in mind as they look toward future careers.
Anyway, back to Mr. Pink. I can’t recommend these books enough. They are an incredibly enlightening and enjoyable read. Check them out today. And Happy Labor Day.