“Get good grades, go to college, work hard. When you’re done, you’ll get a ‘good job'”
This simple statement. This simple fucking statement has weight. If ever there was a philosophy of life hammered into my brain when I was a child and a teenager, this was it.
No emphasis was placed on taking care of my body through exercise, nutrition, and rest.
No emphasis was placed on taking care of my mental health.
No emphasis was placed on developing relevant skills like debt avoidance, financial management, constant re-education, or learning about the quickly-evolving nature of business.
The truth of the matter is that, even at that impressionable age, I didn’t buy it. I didn’t take the bait. In high school, I rode my Downhill bike, ran cross-country, and hung out with my friends. I made no time for studying what I saw as irrelevant subjects. The ones I did see as relevant, like History and Writing, I developed on my own. I was constantly told by teachers that I was a disappointment, squandering my intelligence, and flushing my future down the toilet. Despite testing at the absolute top of my class, I barely graduated.
When I was 19, I started second-guessing myself. “What if everyone is right?” I asked. After all, my parents went to college, and they’re doing alright.
Fast forward 15 years:
- I didn’t finish college
- I got to see 45 states over two months with seven of my closest friends, five of which happened to be in one of my favorite bands, playing to hundreds, if not thousands of people every night.
- I helped to bring the sport of Downhill Mountain Biking to my podunk hometown ski resort, then built a healthy community around it.
- I helped to build a monolithic terrain park feature that ended up on the cover of snowboard magazines, and in a feature film.
- I helped to design and build a snowboard park that ended up on the cover of even more magazines, and became the new standard in the sport.
- I chased the New York to Los Angeles record. Although we didn’t break Alex Roy’s time (we didn’t really even come close), it was still something I’ll never forget.
- I spent a year working for a bike company that singlehandedly changed the face of Downhill Mountain Biking in the 1990’s.
I pulled all of this off in my 20’s (this isn’t to say my 20’s weren’t chock-full of colossal pitfalls, but that’s for another post. In terms of what I managed to achieve, I can look back on this decade of my life with pride).
I’m now 33. At a point several years ago, I decided it was “time to grow up”, and second guessed myself into a formal education by way of an incredibly comprehensive and well-recognized Supply Chain certification.
Despite having a volume of both practical and theoretical knowledge on the subject (significantly more than my classmates, who already had high-paying jobs in industry), my resume portrays a person that wasn’t “taking things seriously” in their 20’s, thus unworthy of so much as a job interview.
I was furious. “What a waste…” I thought.
After stewing on it for a while, the wheels started turning. Then they started spinning. Then they started tearing along so quickly that the bearings melted and the tires de-laminated. The anger gave way to something far more powerful. I no longer regretted educating myself, but realized that my attempts to turn the absorbed information into a traditional job was incredibly short-sighted.
I need a job like I need a hole in my head. I had stressed out over an environment where:
- I would be expected to risk my life at an arbitrary time every morning, speeding, running red lights, and screaming at other drivers just so I don’t get disciplined like a bad little boy for being 5 minutes late.
- I would be expected to give 100% of my effort, to make enough money to “get by” while making my boss’s boss’s rich boss even richer.
- I would be expected to return home with so little physical and mental energy that all I could achieve was laying on the couch eating freezer pizza and zoning out to some TV.
- I would be expected to keep my mouth shut, be talked to like a child, treated like a criminal, and remember to appropriately engage in the fine arts of office politics and ass-kissing.
- I would be expected to “find a way” to meet meaningless quotas, finish colossal projects, even if it meant a 70 hour week, working from my home each night, and doing nothing else, while seeing the number on my paycheck staying exactly the same, and thinking “someday, someone will recognize my sacrifice in the name of the company”
- I would be expected to pack up my cubicle and head to my exit interview with a smile when my job got off-shored or simply axed in a cost-cutting measure. “I really value the experience I’ve gained in my time here, and thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me. I’ve really learned a lot!”
Why not take the knowledge and, instead of leveraging it to become some obese loser of a middle manager’s whipping boy and pack mule… apply it, along with my other relevant skills and knowledge, towards something I am building myself?
Today is a Tuesday. I was up at 6:45 this morning. What’s on the agenda of a “jobless failure” today?
- A heavy shoulder-and-trap workout with my training partner
- Steaks on the grill
- P90X Cardio X, and the buckets of sweat that come with it
- Taking a cold shower (I would write a post on the benefits of this, but all it would accomplish is rehashing Victor’s work. He has all the information one could ever need on the subject)
- Finishing an excellent book
- “Quality time” with my girl
- Working on a Youtube video, and honing my video editing skills
- Likely posting another article on here
- Building, building and more building my businesses, applying every grain of knowledge that I possess, and learning volumes along the way.
But you know what? I really regret my decision to not play it safe. After all, I’d much rather be spending today getting yelled at in a cubicle so that I could afford my student loans, a Hyundai, and a weak-ass town house to play Xbox and watch football in.