This should be the commencement speech at every college this May.
In this funny and ultimately painful TED Talk, Larry Smith explains why most of us fail to get great jobs or even good jobs. Most of us get what he calls blood sucking, soul destroying jobs
How many of us are looking back over our professional lives right now and know that Smith, a professor of Economics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, is talking right to us? How many of us looked our one clear passion in the eye…then looked away?
Smith says most of us.
Despite the fact that we want great jobs, we will fail. Even those who aspire to just having good jobs will fail. Watch it. Laugh a little. Cry a little, too. Then consider trying to follow your passion.
Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career | Video on TED.com.
3 responses to “Why you will fail to have a great career | Video on TED.com”
Larry’s entire premise is wrong. It is not a failure not to have a “great career”. And no amount of passion will compensate for the dollop of luck (i.e random chance, and not-so-random circumstances) that is required to maintain a great career. There are many nearly-great careers that never quite make it to greatness, for a variety of external reasons. If your great career is dashed on the rocks, then what?
Larry’s biggest failure is in disparaging family relationships. Not so long ago, our society was structured in a way that great people with great careers could also be great spouses and great parents. If that’s not possible now, and family is something you want, then I say skip the great career. Despite Larry’s threat, I doubt you’ll ever regret choosing love over career. Look what’s being invented recently, and ask yourself if it has made anything truly better for the world. Be honest. We can do without any one person’s greatness, certainly for the brief amount of time it would take for someone else less inclined to family life to achieve it. Contrary to Larry’s suggestion, parenting is a lot more than saying “do just like I did”.
And what kind of jerk would I be, to demand the products of someone else’s work anyway, that they did at the expense of a family life that they wanted, but gave up due to a speech like Larry’s? I know it happens. But I discourage it when I get the chance.
Last, Larry’s an economist. This isn’t exactly a profession celebrated for its predictive capability. So there.
First let me thank you for taking the time to write such an interesting response. Of course, when I watched this segment, I wasn’t thinking about the hard choice between family and career and I should have been. I traded in all the gold in 1997 to come home after my boss’s husband died, alone, in their garage while the two of us were in Buffalo and focused on the unimaginably unimportant task of installing million dollar computer systems in arenas, airports and parks. My wake-up call came after 10 years on the road, as an executive with all the perks there of…but virtually no life. So your POV is spot on. Thanks
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