Life has become quite a predictable path for many nowadays. It starts at birth, progresses through early education up till university and then plunges into the labor market. A number of people get corporate jobs while others tow the entrepreneurial line. We start to gradually ascend the corporate ladder from the lowest rungs. The rat race sucks us in so deep that we do not realize that all our desires in life are now directed at getting to the top of the ladder. Nothing else matters. Is there really anything wrong with that? Maybe not. In recent times, a few questions have come to the fore: “Is this all there is to you?” “Are you all you can be right now?” “Is there more to you than what you do (as a job)?” “Does your innate capability exceed your current displayed ability?”
It is evident that corporate/formal jobs may end up tailoring your career to fit a particular path without fully exploiting your innate abilities. The truth though is that the capitalist world we live in was strictly designed to employ resources to maximize profit for the owners…. nothing more. While people get all buried in work with grandiose desires to rise to the top, they need to realize that their skills and capabilities are only utilized while they fulfil their organizational goals of profit maximization. For example, a foreman at a construction firm who is also a skilled saxophonist is not likely to be able to use his musical skill to enhance his company’s profit. This always holds true except in a rare case in which his music is used to boost the productivity of his peers.
We start to gradually ascend the corporate ladder from the lowest rungs. The rat race sucks us in so deep that we do not realize that all our desires in life are now directed at getting to the top of the ladder.
Similarly, a basketball enthusiast who works as a bank manager will not use his sport skill to enhance the bank’s bottom-line except perhaps at the State or National Banker’s Games where a win may boost the bank’s brand.
After a while, the basketball player’s mind becomes filled with thoughts of what could have been- “Ah! I used to play basketball a lot”. He watches helplessly as the rat race takes over at the detriment of all his inbuilt skills, talents and capabilities. While he might enjoy tremendous career success and rapid promotion, somewhere in him lies untapped and unexpressed potential.
This is the dilemma which many young people find themselves in today. They work at full time jobs that offer considerable career growth and pay the bills to the detriment of the expression of their full potential. What other options of self-expression are available to people considering the demanding nature of their regular jobs?
What happens to those who rarely get time off work all year round? While it is not healthy for individuals to work without sufficient rest, the reality suggests that this is not uncommon.
The most common option is for such is to take advantage of annual vacation. Let me ask – How do you spend your vacation? Or hol’ up! Do you even take vacation? The few days or weeks away from work offer an excellent opportunity to work on your other skills and capabilities. The saxophonist may want to spend days rehearsing with an ad hoc band or even play with an existing band. This might provide him an opportunity to meet others who share his musical interests. Many interesting collaborations have been birthed at “strange” places. The basketball player may find him or herself providing coaching assistance to young ones at a stadium or nearby sports facility. One can only wonder how many sports academies are ‘locked up’ in the hearts of many corporate executives whose lives only revolve around their formal job.
What happens to those who rarely get time off work all year round? While it is not healthy for individuals to work without sufficient rest, the reality suggests that this is not uncommon. After some time, diminishing returns set in, morale wanes and such an individual ends up in the coping zone.
What to do? Consider maximizing public/bank holidays and weekends. A typical example is that of a medical doctor who is IT savvy but whose time is taken up at the hospital attending to patients while preparing for career examinations by the side. There are quite a lot of routine processes within hospitals that are in dire need of automation. As a subject matter expert, the doctor is in the best position to solve such problems. Any spare time could be used by the doctor to build applications that would help optimize medical processes and make work easier. As with most ventures, the most important part is taking the first step. Generally, one should focus on using every free time to hone skills that are not necessarily used on your job.
The options listed are by no means exhaustive. We must consciously ensure that we are living our lives to the fullest, using all our capabilities to positively impact our world. A wise man once noted “The graveyard is the richest place on the surface of the earth because there you will see the books that were not published, ideas that were not harnessed, songs that were not sung, and drama pieces that were never acted”. Maximize your capabilities and be all you can be!
A self-described thematic thinker, with a keen interest in analysis, planning, strategy and general management, Kunle Durojaiye is an MBA graduate of Cranfield School of Management, UK. His work experience spans the management consulting and oil & gas industries. Follow him on twitter @Kunledee