Back home, there is hierarchy for success. It starts with becoming a physician. It is then followed by becoming an engineer or an architect, then a lawyer. All other professions follow many ranks behind.
Basically other professions mean that you will neither make enough money, nor have a secure future, nor be able to help your family back. It goes without saying that you will not become notorious (life objective!).
There was also another myth. The myth of having a scientific mind and succeeding in all things STEM. In a nutshell, if you were good at writing, or in literature, or else in the world of humanities, it would not be predictive of success (try to define success!).
As I grew older, I had a particular interest in all things human development. I realized that this topic mattered for me as I was about to graduate from high school. I sincerely did not know what to do next. I naturally wanted to become a physician but I was haunted by the idea of failing. I also dreamed of becoming a singer but this probably would have led to the family expelling me, forever.
There was another obsession: whatever you choose to do, you have to outshine every creature doing it in the galaxy.
I increasingly started being exposed to others: their silent challenges, their buried dreams, their struggling projects, their pretentious super powers, their in-existing weaknesses, and many more. This was combined with the sub-conscious need to help others, to make an impact, and – again no pressure – to change the world.
As I entered the peculiar world of corporations, I realized that it was messier than I thought. I noticed that wrong career decisions lead to drama. Most people are unhappy at work, as they grow the ladder of leadership, they often want to pursue happiness even if it is at the expense of others’ happiness. They are actually so unhappy in their constant pursuit for happiness.
I have studied, I have worked, I have read (quite a lot), and I have come across many people. I then came to a simple conclusion. I am not sure it is universal. However I am convinced that it may change the course of lives, it may also re-shape the world of work. I strongly believe we need to start asking our kids one question: what world problem do you want to contribute into solving?
We grow up with – generally speaking – two possible mindsets.
Parents and teachers push kids to think of a future whereby they become like someone else who is reachable (your uncle!), or not easily reachable (Zaha Hadid, Architect).
Parents and teachers do their best to instill in their kids the notion of competition. As they grow older, they need to outshine all known and unknown competitors… In a traditional field (again: physician, engineer or architect, and lawyer).
There must be a new approach to educating children. An approach that help them craft careers at a very early age – by art and by design. Have you every asked your students or your children about a world problem that they dream of solving?
I am a strong believer that this question would trigger a new ecosystem for children. One where they create the future they want to live in. One where they grow their sense of belonging, contribution, and commitment. One where they nurture their problem-solving abilities. One where they create sustainable value. One where they own both achievements and failures. One where failures are opportunities to learn, unlearn, relearn, create and re-create.
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A man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress.
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The key to Harris’s compelling and fast-paced narrative is twofold: the accuracy with which he portrays his subjects; and the plausibility which he extrapolates fact into possibility.