When I first sent out the manuscripts of my book, I asked the focus group to give me some direct, honest feedback. I got an earful.
One guy said my “brand” might be in the category of what he called “self-rescue.”
I knew what he meant, and I didn’t consider it a slam. Indeed, if my story was helpful, I’d consider that a compliment.
I am going to attempt to be the patron saint of reinvention, but I can’t be the focus of it.
The self-help prophets that roam the globe in rented hotel ballrooms preaching to their throngs of disciples the possibilities of happiness have a problem. If their ideas are so awesome, we would expect the prophet to represent the epitome of happiness and self-fulfillment. Anthony Robbins and his ilk have made the brand about them, so it’s a requirement that they have a facade of success, happiness and wealth.
I cannot do that.
The world of work has changed so completely and dramatically that there are no precedents. A 25 year-old can expect to change jobs or careers probably 12 times over a lifetime! The days of working for one company for 30 years, grabbing that pension and playing golf in retirement has been over for decades. From the beginning of the Reagan presidency to today, the landscape of the American work experience has been irreversibly changed.
Imagine the terror of a 50 year-old. There simply are not enough jobs for the Boomers. Actual work experience, once a priceless currency, is now often considered a liability!
I have to able to fail in this life and tell you I did. My intrigue and passion for the subject of reimagining careers is about having a conversation with you, not about selling a five-step plan guaranteed to put a permanent smile on your face. I have to be allowed to tell you I screwed up, or this whole conversation is not authentic. Sure, I have opinions and ideas, but friend, I might just be full of crap sometimes.
A conversation is not a speech or a sermon. it’s not a seminar or a five-step plan. It’s people talking, sharing ideas, making mistakes, falling down and getting up again. It’s about cause and effect, trial and error, victory and defeat. My interest in this subject stems from personal experience, transformed into eternal curiosity about how life is going…for you.
When I give opinions, it’s not meant to be some dramatic revelation I can’t possibly have all the answers. I need you to know that I am going to have to reinvent several more times before I leave this earth and dammit, when it does happen it’s going to be bewildering and a pain in the ass. I didn’t find the Holy Grail of career change – I got a new job.
This act of reinvention cannot possibly be considered unique, because each one of us are going to have to go through it many times.
It’s the conversation about how we all do it that gives me purpose in this life. One can make it a brand and a business without shame, but one can’t make promises and guarantees and claim to represent the ideal. That’s what the self-help prophets do. I can’t, and I won’t.
What I am gathering in all of this is knowledge, information gleaned from the stories of people other than me. That gives me fuel to continue the conversation I want to have with you. We’re going to start developing video content featuring stories of real people’s successes and failures.
This weekend, my book is free. Visit the Amazon bookstore through Sunday and your download of a perfectly imperfect story of reinvention is on me. You’ll find no miracle cures in there, but you might have some thoughts of your own…
Let’s talk about it.