Be proud of being the black sheep. If everyone agrees with you, maybe you’re not being bold enough.For a while, even as someone who never worked a real job, I was afraid to put forward an opinion that I knew was likely to be challenged. I had heard all the proverbs and stories about how those who change the world for good are often criticized, but it was hard to walk the walk. I was afraid of being put down! I was also afraid of causing offense. The irony is that I thought I was being polite in going with the flow—not conforming to it myself, necessarily, but not really challenging it in others. Read More
When Paul McCartney goes on tour, he plays a lot of songs. A recent set list included 27 songs and stretched for more than three hours. People get their money’s worth, which is why they keep coming back.
You can think of yourself as an artist that seeks to challenge yourself by trying new things, and there’s nothing wrong that perspective. But there’s also nothing wrong with asking, “What do the people want?” and then thinking about how to give it to them.Read More
Are you tired of being courageous and fed up with bravery? Seeking an alternative to risk-taking?Not to worry. Choosing to live in fear is both easy and safe. Simply follow a few simple guidelines, and you'll live comfortably ever after. Keep calm and carry on. Beware of danger, true love, and real life. Play it safe. Never charge down a mountain. Don't run, don't leap, don't go too fast. Be wary of opportunities and new perspectives. Above all: stay the course. Read More
Dan finished his education degree without ever stepping into a classroom.After he graduated, he realized he didn’t like teaching and wasn’t good at it. The very first day of student teaching, where the goal was to serve as an intern before accepting a full-time position, he knew that this was not the career for him. You’re probably thinking: hey, that’s life! He just had to stick it out, and then he’d be fine. And it’s true, sometimes there’s a learning curve on the road of purpose. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and it takes time to gain real-world skills. This was different, though. Dan really didn’t like teaching. It felt uncomfortable and unnatural. He knew he could probably soldier on through the internship, but he didn’t want to go any further. Read More
Lesson: “Never give up” is bad advice. Real winners don’t hesitate to walk away from an unsuccessful venture.Contrary to popular belief, if you want to win, you shouldn’t always just keep going. You should regroup and try something totally different. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” is a lie. To win, sometimes you need to find a new game to play. You may be familiar with this old adage, often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Einstein was right in that the real danger of going in- sane, or just failing over and over, doesn’t usually come from doing something new. Rather, the worst failures come from something that we’ve been doing for a while. Read More
Take action now so that you’ll have more opportunities later.Plan for the future every day. Set yourself up for success. It all sounds great. But how do you do it? Here are four ideas. As always, it’s your life, so feel free to modify as you see fit. Read More
Lesson: Improving “soft skills” can increase your value no matter what kind of career you have.Hard skills are things you learned through technical or academic training: how to make architectural drawings with certain software, how to properly administer medication as a nurse, and so on. Soft skills are just as important—if not more—but aren’t usually taught in school. To be more effective (and to become more valuable), spend time improving your soft skills in writing, negotiation, conflict management, and follow-up. Read More
Before my dad packed up his cubicle and moved to a beachside office, he created a spreadsheet that displayed the number of days that remained until his retirement age.It soon became a topic of dinner table conversation: “Hey, Dad, how much longer at the day job?” I’d ask. He’d respond with something like, “Oh, I don’t know exactly . . . well, I guess I do. Looks like I have 673 days and 4 hours to go.” When you’re trying to escape a dead-end job or any other undesirable situation, create a calendar and count down the days to freedom. Read More
Most people know that the lottery is not a good investment plan. It’s not rational to invest large amounts of money in lottery tickets, because you’re almost certain to lose no matter how much cash you spend at the gas station or convenience store.Buying a single lottery ticket or two, however, is actually quite rational. Most of us don’t play the lottery as an investment in anything other than dreaming. For a few minutes after you buy the ticket and before you scratch off the numbers, or maybe even for a few days if the winning numbers aren’t announced until later, you have the opportunity to walk around with a dream in your pocket. Read More
*My brand-new book, Born for This, is all about helping you find the work you were meant to do. This series explores some of these lessons.Lesson: Craft backup plans. They will allow you to take more risks and make better choices. There’s no shame in having a plan B, or even plans C–Z. Use the “if this, then that” method to make a backup plan for every career choice, and then make a backup for the backup. If one strategy doesn’t work, move to the next. Read More
At one of the stops on my current tour, the bookstore host introduced me by saying in part “... and Chris earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington.” It surprised me a little because no one else has ever mentioned that in any introduction that I can recall.Sure, it’s public information, but who cares? No one reads my blog because I went to college. No one buys my books or comes to an event because I earned an advanced degree, or any degree for that matter. Read More
In the introduction to one of the chapters of my new book, I wrote about escaping from Alcatraz. If you’re trying to get out of an unfulfilling job, it can sometimes feel just as difficult as getting out of prison. I used the Alcatraz story as a metaphor, but a reader who wants to remain anonymous passed on a story that I really liked. Here’s the story.
My uncle was a historian at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco. He gave me a tour of their private collection once, items that were too delicate for public display. In a large metal drawer, he showed me the fake human heads made of soap that the escaped inmates had used to fool the nighttime guards. Can you imagine? Collecting the tiny end slivers of soap after a shower. Getting them back to your cell. Finally saving enough to create a head. They also made a makeshift drill out of hair clippers and a screw. You get really creative when you need to escape! Read More
When you’re not sure what your “thing” is—when you don’t know quite where to look to find that job or career that brings you joy, flow, and a good income—the people you talk to every day can help you find it.The answer may come from your inbox, whether that inbox consists of the actual emails you receive with the same questions over and over, your social media feeds, or just the conversations you have with your friends. In other words, the people in your network may actually have a better sense of what your most marketable skills are than you do. Read More
*My brand-new book, Born for This, is all about helping you find the work you were meant to do. This series explores some of these lessons.Lesson: Make a commitment to resign your job every year, unless your current job is the best one. When you’re stuck in a rut or simply not sure if your current job is the best choice, here’s an idea: once a year, on the date of your choosing, commit to yourself that you will quit your job unless staying put is the best possible choice for you at this time. Read More