Monday, September 21, 2009

The last career guide post I'll ever write

I just finished The Adventure of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need by Daniel H. Pink. It is not your normal nonfiction/business book, even for the business books that tell a didactic story. It is written/drawn in manga style, which made it actually a fun read and something very different. While I am not much of a fan of manga - those Asian cartoons that are basically single drawings of kids with spiky hair that are always going "pow" or something - it didn't feel like a book you had to wade through. Kudos to Pink for trying something new!

I'll give you the gist of it by providing the 6 rules that the magic business fairy tells Bunko when he breaks open some chopsticks:

1. There is no plan.
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
3. It's not about you.
4. Persistence trumps talent.
5. Make excellent mistakes.
6. Leave an imprint.

If you've read much from authors such as Martin Seligman, Marcus Buckingham, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, then it is mostly a rehash. But it is leftovers from a great meal. All of the "rules" are based on living your life from principles rather than trying to manipulate the future - which is basically the point of number one (my favorite). You never know what might happen, and if you aren't open to opportunities, then you'll miss out because you had a "plan."

Not that plans are bad, but they should be drafts based on values and principles rather than set in stone. The problem is that sometimes this comes at odds with the particular context. For example, rule number 5 says that you should shoot for the moon knowing that sometimes you will fail. But what happens if you are in a context that doesn't particularly like taking risks. Been there. Pink says that we shouldn't just be walking around on clouds hoping life works out, but we should be "enlightened pragmatists."

I liked what the book had to say, but it is certainly no short term fix for those struggling in this economy. Where you can take his advice is to volunteer your skills and passions or take a different look at how you fit into your current company. If you are interested in more, check out the website.

Ja, Mata.

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