Sunday, July 25, 2010

Are you the proverbial one-trick-pony?

I am currently reading a novel by my favorite writer Robert Heinlien, called "Time enough for love" (Science/Social fiction). In this book, due to technological advancement, the lead character called Lazarus Long, is a man who lives for thousands of years. The author images the evolution of the "society" in 1000 years from now. Wow!

While the story is classified science fiction, the writer relishes imaging new societies, with new customs, new kinds of economies. I too was drawn much by the much more complex and realistic social fiction aspect of the story more than the science fiction.

While Lazarus Long enjoys his very long life he has almost all professions that mankind had to offer. Lazarus Long, during his lifetime has about 50 or more professions. You name it and he would have been at least once. He is has been a doctor, engineer (all kinds), teacher, farmer, banker, priest, musician,... Now that is interesting... and got me thinking.

While I really pray for that medical science to let me live for thousand years (fingers crossed) my life is probably not going that to be thaaat long, but I don't think it is short enough for just one profession. Why are we clinging to just one profession?

Suddenly, I feel like a "one trick pony", a circus animal which knows one and only one stunt but nothing else.

A family friend just retired, he was a professor for 35 years, and loved teaching. My father just retired, and he is an Electrical Engineer. He has been an Electrical Engineer for 35 years and he worked in the same company throughout his life! Wow! What a commitment! I noticed most his friends are also retiring and have a similar story. While their commitment to a single career is interesting, I would also like to have a bit of choice.

I have always wanted to be a martial arts teacher with a black belt in Jujitsu and karate. Can you change their career after 10 years? but I do not think the society is going to like it. I found a couple of reasons,
1. The socio-economic forces are one - where we are forced to earn asap and continuously during our active days and save for retirement. I guess I cannot stop feeding my kids just for the sake of my professional vanity :(
2. The current "career" system is rigid at many levels. You have to go to school when you are in your teens, college comes immediately after. Then work.
How awesome if we were allowed to go to college at any age? I think all colleges and universities should be like Management Schools that admit students of all ages.
I just started learning Jujitsu! :-) Yahooooo!
3. In the corporate world, the importance of "seniority" must be reduced and "talent" and "enthusiasm" must be promoted. This is precisely why India consistently has had octogenarian Prime Ministers :( It really would not hurt to have someone younger having the top job.

If we can build a more flexible educational/career system, we can solve a thousand problems it would solve. hmm... Ok probably not a thousand, but a few but important problems in the world. If you did not get the opportunity to get your education when you were young, you may be able to get it later in your lives. Or, if you really liked being a doctor, but then at 40 you realized you do not like being a doctor anymore and realized you wanted to be a singer. Wont it be awesome? How awesome would it be to correct your mistakes and change your career path?

We have one short lived life, lets at try to make it less painful than it has to be.

Originally written for world@zeole


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