I really enjoyed Tiny Buddha‘s latest post about her journey toward meaningful work. It’s about the paradox of wanting to find “the perfect job”, while being afraid that it might not be possible to get paid for doing what you love.
What struck me is the phrase “the perfect job”, and along with it, the idea that there is one ideal job for each person, and when you find it, you’re done. I think the truth is exactly the opposite; given the number of decades most people are going to spend working, replacing the “ideal job” with a series of well-considered experiments and pivots seems like it will serve most of us way better. It also takes the pressure off of getting it right the first time, and lets people notice what they love or don’t about a particular type of work.
I few days ago I watched a Discovery Channel video about Michael Leinbach, who has been the Shuttle Launch Director at NASA since 2000, and has worked at NASA since 1984. My grandfather Karl Hegardt worked for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph (and subsequent derivates thereof) from a few years after CalTech graduation until his retirement. Those days feel kinda over for most of us.
I was just talking to Alon Salant, a partner at Carbon Five (a leading SF software development consultancy) this morning; they are pitching new hires on how they’re going to gain a significant amount of software engineering maturity and learn to work effectively as part of a world-class team at his company, and how they’re welcome to “graduate” into doing their own ventures with other alumni with the company’s full support. I was struck by how forward-thinking that is. (Agile software developers who want to know more should look here). My grandfather’s world where someone is likely to stay at the same company forever doesn’t exist any more, and business owners who recognize that are ahead of the game.