This question, derived from a terrific commencement speech given at MIT last year by Dropbox founder Drew Houston, is a good place to start because it cuts to the chase. As Houston explained, “The most successful people are obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball.” To increase your chances of happiness and success, Houston said, you must “find your tennis ball--the thing that pulls you.”
"It’s unlikely Wolfgang Kohler had any reason to believe that when he conducted his now famous monkey experiments on Canary Island in the early 1900’s, he was providing us, almost a century later, with a powerful symbol of what it takes to win in today’s world."
Observing individuals who lead a creative life, we can identify elements of expertise, grit, an understanding, and passion. What’s easy to overlook is the inner system within an individual—the set of principles that govern their mind and behavior. When failure ensues or the need to adapt is necessary, how does one respond? What do they tell themselves? In other words, what’s their philosophy?
A recent article in The Economist quotes Bill Gates as saying at least a dozen job types will be taken over by robots and automation in the next two decades, and these jobs cover both high-paying and low-skilled workers. Some of the positions he mentioned were commercial pilots, legal work, technical writing, telemarketers, accountants, retail workers, and real estate sales agents.
Indeed, as I’ve predicted before, by 2030 over 2 billion jobs will disappear. Again, this is not a doom and gloom prediction, rather a wakeup call for the world.
Today I am celebrating my 90th birthday. I’ve seen the world change many times over. It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made. When I was a child there was no such thing as a television, and now I’m online typing this on a touchscreen tablet my grandson bought me for my birthday. This ride we call ‘life’ is amazing!”
Those are the opening lines to an email I received this morning from a reader named Mary Ann. The rest of her email discusses the ups and downs of her 90-year journey, and how she perceives life as being like an “ongoing jigsaw puzzle” we never quite complete. “It’s crazy how some pieces randomly go missing, and then other pieces you didn’t even know existed fit so perfectly in the empty spaces,” she says.
Imagine you're a shipwrecked sailor adrift in the enormous Pacific. You can choose one of three directions and save yourself and your shipmates -- but each choice comes with a fearful consequence too. How do you choose?
In her TED talk titled What fear can teach us Karen Thompson Walker explains how fear is like an unintentional story we tell ourselves. By learning how to read our fears and imagine possible futures, we can make smarter decisions.
"Our brains, neuroscientists warn, are developing new circuits with a big impact on non-digital reading.
Several English department chairs from around the country have e-mailed her to say their students are having trouble reading the classics.
“They cannot read ‘Middlemarch.’ They cannot read William James or Henry James,” Wolf said. “I can’t tell you how many people have written to me about this phenomenon. The students no longer will or are perhaps incapable of dealing with the convoluted syntax and construction of George Eliot and Henry James.”
And it's not just students developing reading problems."
"Peeky always loved being outside and exploring the natural world. Not much of a mouser, she preferred taking a nap, enjoying the warm breezes, bouncing through the tall grasses and flirting with the outside cats. On her last day, Peekaboo spent part the morning, lying on the grass, listening to the birds up in the trees surrounding her. She was very happy."
5. Network more. Most jobs come though connections, and if you don't have connections, make them. Networking is one of the most important things you can do when pursuing a new job, but it's even more critical if you don't have a degree.
"The Future of Employment study makes clear that what matters most today is what you can do with what you know, rather than how much you know." - Dr. Tony Wagner
"To expand a bit on that, what we are saying is that service occupations that do not require much creative and social intelligence are likely to be automated. Some personal service jobs, however, do require especially some social intelligence. These, we think, will not be automated."
"Caste your mind ahead ten years from now and think about the life you want to be living then. What do you want to be doing? With whom? Who do you want to have become in the process?
Ten years from now there will be people who have achieved extraordinary success. While we don’t know who they will be, one thing is sure - they won’t be people who have stayed inside their comfort zone. Rather, they will be people who have continued to stretch themselves, even when things are going smoothly, and who have been willing to risk failure or looking foolish, knowing that the biggest risk they take is not taking any risks at all. The question is – will you be one of them?!"
As a society we certainly equate speed with smarts. Think fast. Are you quick-witted? A quick study? A whiz kid? Even Merriam-Webster bluntly informs us that slowness is “the quality of lacking intelligence or quickness of mind.”
But we also recognize something counterintuitive about accepting full-stop that people who react faster are smarter. That’s why, even though athletic training improves reaction time, we wouldn’t scout for the next Einstein at a basketball game. Intelligence probably has a lot to do with making fast connections, but it surely has just as much to do with making the right connections.