Looking for a new plan
I must be an entrepreneur. This is the only solution. Not really what I'd have expected for myself as a teenager, but life has its ways...
I had a plan. At least I thought I had one. But dreams don't always come to fruition. Few of them survive their first encounter with the real world. And a plan can prove itself valuable only if it can overcome the test of reality. So now, I must be able to reinvent myself for the better.
I'm done. I'm done with unpaid internships, shitty gigs, and unprosperous career prospects. Enough is enough! I need a clean slate. A new life chapter. The naive grade student is dead. A new man shall be born!
In search of inspiration
Many of us try to change our lives, but few know exactly where to start and how to proceed. I've never thought of becoming a businessman myself. I've always been a scholar. But now, I must adapt, and I will do what's necessary.
My main goal now is to get a playbook and find inspiration. A unique idea for a business.
Let's get to work, shall we?
My quest starts on a cold and clear April day in the streets of Paris. As I walk through the Jardin du Luxembourg exit gate, my thoughts focus on brainstorming ideas for a life-changing business. Something that will allow me to live a life by design and not by default.
Despite all my attempts to stay focused on the task, I cannot help but feel the weight of uncertainty. To endlessly wonder what went so wrong?
In my 20s, I used to believe that a happy and fulfilled life could only be achieved by doing "what we love". Our passion should be the main focus of our decisions and sense of direction. Unfortunately, the reality is that we can't live in a bubble. It is unrealistic. We have to live according to society's needs as well. I guess the key is to find the balance between the two. But what is it?
What have I got to lose by trying?
Following the pathway out of the park. I'm now on Soufflot street, from which all gazes are captured by the imposing figure of the Panthéon. The magnificent building shadows everything around it.
Suddenly, as if I'm under some ancient spell, my body is instinctively attracted by the beauty of the place. I find myself walking towards the great Necropolis of the French Revolution, where many great individuals of the past gave their lives for a better future. Perhaps will I find inspiration in the company of ancient spirits? After all, why not. What have I got to lose trying?
As I get closer to my destination, a new form of determination has sprung up in me. A new flame came to be. The sidewalks I'm running into are filled with the attractive smell of creperies and coffee shops nearby. On this day, joy seems to have taken over the streets of Paris. It gives me hope.
However, I'm still profoundly distracted. Despite my desperate attempts, I fail to push back the memory of my father. Of his tormented face, twisted by toil, trials. Worn out by life. Crushed by the weight of a toxic job. I remember him saying:
"You have to work hard to get out of this."
His fatality seems hopeless. Working all your life to barely make it and having a miserable retirement seems crazy. And yet, this is the reality of many.
But as the current world economy has shown us, being successful is not always the product of hard work. Not all poverty is due to laziness.
The circumstances in which my dad grew up and worked are entirely different from today. Things have changed fast. Too fast for most of us to properly understand it.
Jobs and traditional career paths aren't enough anymore. They are, for the most part, not as fulfilling. Most of them barely cover their external costs. Wages are stagnant, and high inflation is rampant. This is why phenomena like The Great Resignation are happening.
I believe the main challenge for younger workers is to regain their ability to control their time without being passive. Yet we need a life of meaning and purpose. People need community and feel they are part of something bigger than themselves. And still being able to pay their bill and have at least a decent stimulating lifestyle.
It's not an easy problem to solve. And everyone is different. So what is the solution?
Let's move on.
A few steps left, and I will be inside the Panthéon. While I'm paying for my ticket, the air I breathe suddenly takes on a supernatural taste. Beauty is crossing all over my spirit, bones, and flesh. The paintings over the walls. The incredible details of the Dome. Everything here reminds me of the exceptional potential of the human mind.
As an amazed visitor, I continue my tour, watching above my head and mouth open. Like a daydreaming child who just found out about Neverland. A blissful moment.
Next, I decide to explore the underground crypt, where rest the remains of figures like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo. Great writers and thinkers of their time. These men shared a voracious passion for knowledge, education, and creating new ideas.
Finally, I go back up and then go straight ahead. I look up once again to admire the Cupola until I reach the back of the building where the statue of Marianne, in an imperial posture, stares from her cold gaze at the impetuous visiters. I slowly get closer to her while having the strange feeling of being the main object of her attention.
Unconsciously, I wander between the realm of the seen and the unseen. Across the veil of time itself. Then, from my mind emerge these words, which I silently proclaim out of respect:
Hail, O Queen of Deliverance.
Hail, O Unsullied Lady,
Hail! thou root, hail! thou gate
From who unto the world, a light has arisen:
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
Lovely beyond all others,
I honor you, most beautiful maiden,
That you may grant me the precious gifts of wisdom and valor.
My focus is then drawn to her sword, which she holds straight towards the ground like a conquerer.
Underneath it lies an inscription.
Carved out deep into the stone for all to remember into the ages to come.
Writings upon the base, visible and clear as a red flame, shine unflappable.
A bright undefeated message that makes any surrounding distraction disappear:
Vivre Libre ou Mourir
Live Free or Die
In the most unremarkable of events, as I visited an outstanding monument in the French capital, I got what I was looking for: Inspiration!
This is my eureka moment. My epiphany!
This makes my heart jump up strangely. I might not know for sure if I will succeed or not, but I want to follow my instinct nonetheless. I have to be brave if I want to get the life I want.
I will write! I will be an educator! I will be a content creator!
As an eclectic person, I have always felt that I should write. About everything I've learned over the years and bring value to my community, even though I never considered it a plausible profession before. I guess we all have to accept the reality of changing our minds. Still, it is painful to feel like we are behind schedule, so we run in the other direction twice as fast to make up for the lost time.
Burning the Past
I learned over this past decade that long-term planning is not as easy as it sounds because people's goals and desires change over time. And most of all, we have to adapt to the world we live in. I know that I've changed. I'm a completely different person from my 18 years old self.
However, my lifelong mission of protecting wildlife and nature has not disappeared. Still, through my previous experiences, I realize that working for NGOs for a meager salary and the uncertainty of finding a new position is not what I'm looking for.
The nature of illusions is that it's designed, at least at the moment, to make us feel good about ourselves, about where we're going. So in that sense, it functions like a drug.
Those who question our illusions are often challenged not so much for the veracity of what they say. But for punctuating those uncomfortable feelings.
Attempt to get up, question who we are and where we are going, and the critic will be that you're such a pessimist. That you're such a cynic. That you're not an optimist.
Optimism becomes a kind of disease. It's what created the financial meltdown where you have this kind of cheerful optimism in the face of utter catastrophe. And you ploy forward based on an optimism that is no longer rooted in reality.
If hope becomes something we express through illusion, it's not hope it's fantasy.
When you don't understand what's going on. When you buy the illusion that you are fed to believe that reality is never an impediment to what you desire. That you can have everything you want. It blinds you. It keeps you from seeing what's happening around you.
Accepting the end of our illusions is to put our imagining goal in the context of reality itself. It's a brutal wake-up call, but it's necessary.
At every period of our lives, we make decisions that will profoundly influence the life of the person we are going to become. We then have to decide how to use those past experiences and try to make up new realistic goals for ourselves. To figure it out, the Japanese concept of ikigai asks us to answer these four pivotal questions:
- What we love.
- What we are good at.
- What we can be paid for.
- What the world needs.
By doing this, we might be able to solve our lifelong questions about what to do with our lives in a meaningful and rewarding way. This requires, of course, time and effort, but nothing good comes out easy.
Another unresolved question we might have is:
"I might know my ikigai now, but how do I stand out?"
This is an important one. In our hyper-connected world, competition has never been so fierce. Natural selection hasn't disappeared. It just changed of aspect.
In any given field, we compete in a talent pool composed of potentially hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people spanning across the globe. This is especially true for jobs that rely on working with our brains instead of our muscles. And with the increasing involvement of A.I., an even more extensive set of fields will soon face the same problem. Being smart and having good grades are no longer reliable advantages in a world as connected as ours.
What we need is flexibility. This is because so many previous technical skills have become obsolete through automation. But our competitive advantage as humans come from our creativity and an alliance of other soft skills like communication, empathy, and adaptability.
With these skills, we increase our chance of getting better opportunities. And by learning new skills, we might discover unsuspected career paths.
This is where the decision to become a specialist or a generalist comes into place. Most career paths like doctor, lawyer and engineer require you to dig deep into your art. Nonetheless, these are also the most competitive field.
For example, the average acceptance rate for new software engineers at Google is between 0.2% and 0.5%. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try. It just means getting there will be a significant challenge.
On the other hand, becoming a generalist allows you to combine a handful of rarely combined skills. For example, a computer science degree with a law degree; or a finance-mathematics skill set with public speaking abilities. You are then defacto competing in a smaller pool of talent.
With the internet, our learning potential has increased dramatically. Still, we face the other side of the coin: information overload. Nothing in this world comes for free. Our attention has become the most precious currency for corporations and tech companies. This is why social media have such incredible power over society today.
To regain our attention means we are able to get back on track and use our depleted attention to better ourselves and live the life we want.
There is so much to learn and to do and so little time. That's the story of the modern world. And yet, the things that we need to do to accomplish our goals are time and skill. Skills take time and effort to master. But with the compounding effects of learning adjacent skills, you can become excellent at something quickly. Instead of becoming a master at one skill, a generalist must learn for the sake of sufficiency, not virtuosity. This is what Josh Kaufman calls The first 20 hours rule.
It's the notion of developing capacity, not world-class mastery. Spending 10,000 hours of our time are for the pros. Rapid skill acquisition, on the other hand, allows us to find solutions for our problems and can be broken down into 4 steps:
- Deconstructing a skill into the smallest possible sub-skills.
- Learning enough about each sub-skill to practice intelligently and self-correct during practice.
- Removing any physical, mental, and emotional barriers that would get in the way of practice.
- Practicing for at least 20h.
A new mission
By using these four simple steps, you'll become more comfortable acquiring the necessary skill set to accomplish your projects while being exposed to new things.
Finding a good career fit requires doing, not reflecting. For multi-potential individuals, these wide ranges of experiences, different sampling skills, and experimenting with other ideas allow them to become great analogical thinkers. Which is the primary source of creativity. Creativity is what allows the resolution of problems. And as Steve Jobs used to say:
"Creativity is the combination of ideas."
This is the goal I have with this website, in which I wish to provide:
- Synthesizing information on a wide variety of subjects.
- Sharing insights to reflect on what matters in life.
- Providing guidelines during your self-learning journey.
- Helping you find your purpose.
- Teaching valuable and useful skills.
- Enabling creative and multi-potential individuals to regain their freedom by living a life by design, not by default.
- Creating a community of like-minded people willing to share ideas and interested in problem-solving.
So if you've enjoyed your reading so far and desire to become an eclectic learner yourself, I encourage you to continue navigating throughout the available content. This post was meant as an introduction. My way to finally open a new chapter.
And by all means, I hope that you got inspired by this story and that you learned something new. So I'll see you at the next one.