Reinvention: Why It’s Not Noble

In my class at the university, I often tell my students if we were to sum up the course in one sentence, it would be “COM 611 is a class about how we talk to each other.”

The things we most often discuss have not changed much in the last 6,000 years:

  • food
  • sex
  • religion
  • work
  • relationships (personal and family)

The tools that we use to have these conversations, however, have evolved to a point where the machines are just about ready to talk for us. When you think about pre-scheduling tweets with your social media dashboard, that’s happening already.

The act of reinvention has not changed much either.

We used to do something. Circumstances either within our out of our control caused us to do something else.

That’s really all there is to it.

I’m reading a book from 1970 called “The Handbook of Short Story Writing”. I thought it would be intriguing to see what advice aspiring authors were being given, their nascent media creation world then consisting of typewriters and three television networks.

Funny how we are still talking about the same things.

Cover -"Handbook of Short Story Writing"

As it relates to writing, the authors told us the following:

I know of one woman who, in addition to doing her own housework, is working at two other jobs to support herself and her three children. But she didn’t fold her creative hands and say “I can’t.” By scheming and planning, she was able to pare a minimum of 15 minutes free time for herself every day. Only 15 minutes  – but she is writing and selling!

In 1970, a single mom was working three jobs to support her family. Sad that in 2013, we are still describing our struggles the same way. More proof that nothing is original anymore –  I wrote about a 15-minute strategy in a previous article.

The point was (and is now), we do have time to reinvent. The book gives many examples of people finding a little sanity and satisfaction by getting off their butt and doing something about it.

This is why I am not in the self-help business. Nobody needs an infomercial solution. The solution is widely known; we need to stop stalling and start doing.

If the doing part was easy, we’d all be in a heavenly utopia.

I was asked in an interview this morning what I might do if I found myself unemployed tomorrow. My answer? “I would be bewildered, confused, and lost. I would not know what to do next.” That’s the truth. Sure, I love my working life now, but rarely is anything in this life forever. I reinvented once, sure, but I bet I’m not done yet.

Reinvention calls on us many times in our lives. Any moment we will have to change lanes or take the off-ramp less traveled. Reinvention is not noble or special, nor is it an entitlement. Sometimes we just have to.

This is why I enjoying being helpful (I hope) without selling self-help. We’re reinventing the same ways in 2013 that people did in 1970.

The one benefit we who live in the here and now have are the tools to speed up the process.

Steven Pressfield, author of “The War of Art”, offers this modern take; The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”

Either do it, or don’t. It’s up to all of us.

Picture of John ScottJohn Scott is an instructor, online learning coordinator, and the career services manager for the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University San Francisco.  His book “Destination:Reinvention” is on sale now in the Amazon bookstore.  


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