Monday, September 02, 2013

Why you can succeed in having a great career

My brother passed me this TED talk: Why you will fail to have a great career by Larry Smith and asked my opinion of it. After watching it, I've got to say it's a wonderful TED talk. It's engaging and got me thinking after the fact. There's only one tiny quibble I have with it, it's fundamentally flawed advice.

See, the video suggests that what's holding you back from greatness is yourself. It's your fear of trying something new, your apathy in searching your passion and your looking for excuses at every turn. And Smith is right, you can certainly be the limiting factor in your own success.

But I think it's disingenuous to suggest that all barriers to greatness are manufactured by yourself. The reality is we all have limitations on our life. We can accept them and work within them, or we can watch TED talks that suggest they don't exist and be disappointed when they do.

Let's consider an example: you decide that your passion is acting. You inform your wife, that she and your two young children will be moving to NY to pursue your dream of being on Broadway. She may say, "terrific, let's do it!" But, more than likely she is going to inform you that this isn't really possible: your children may be in the right school, and she may have a local career she doesn't want to give up. What do you do? Do you lament how you're being held back from greatness?

I think it's at this point that you continue to strive for your dream and greatness, you just do it within the constraints you have. In short, you Live your Best Life. So you join a community theater and act there. If one doesn't exist, maybe you start one up. And maybe in doing so, you show an entire town the power of plays and acting. Maybe you end up getting your kids, and other kids involved, and show a whole generation about the power of the stage over YouTube.

Embracing your limitations doesn't mean giving up. It means tackling your dream with a level of creativity that goes beyond simply facing your fears and searching for your passion. And I think the results can be far more interesting than the path you originally charted when the only thing in your way was a few self-made roadblocks.

You're going to have a great career not because you banished all your limitations, but because you used them to reach it.

Watch the TED talk, and give me your take on it:

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