Surgeon General’s Health Advisory: Today’s post is dripping with sarcasm and is not suitable for young children, expecting mothers, and individuals with heart problems.
I have a confession to make.
I have a nasty, shameful habit: I read blogs. By gurus.
Sometimes I just can’t help myself. I’m walking along some lonely road, some empty street, when suddenly I’m struck by the urge to quit my job and finally start living my passion instead of this lousy gig as a street sweeper. I have to provide my own broom, damn it. I deserve better.
Back home, overcome by the lust, the fervor, the raw emotion, I log on to Google and begin my search.
Browser tab after browser tab opens as I find one guru after another, each more seductive than the last. Bright yellow signs with bold black letters telling me “quit your job” and “fire your boss” and promising that they’ll reveal everything inside the exclusive VIP area.
When I wake up from my fever dream, I realize that the gurus don’t really love me. They whisper sweet nothings, and gift me free ebooks, but I know that what they really want is inside my wallet.
Well they can’t have it, damn it. I’m taking a stand!
Recently I came across one of the blogs I have in my “blog fodder” bookmark folder, because the rage they induce inspires some of my most passionate work, only to realize that they’ve released a new product.
This is always a happy day for me, as I love for any excuse to get the dissecting and debunking engines rolling. And this new wonder of the world did NOT disappoint.
The premise of this one is really clever and original: “Jobs suck, so I’ll help you quit.”
As such, this product commands a price tag with far too many digits.
Now recently, I discussed why we shouldn’t bother trying to make money online. Apparently, I’ve underestimated the strength of Google, as the hate mail has not yet melted their servers.
So I hope you’ve sold you Google stock, because after this one, I don’t think we’ll be so fortunate.
The job is the ideal victim of savvy marketers. With a stagnant economy, increasing income inequality, spiraling debt (personal and national), and what’s being hailed as the most selfish, entitled generation of all time, the “dead-end” job is the perfect rallying cry for professional marketers who would otherwise be out of a job. I hope you’re got your irony inoculations.
You’ve probably heard the news too, seeing as you’re an internet user. Jobs destroy our freedom and our wealth. And they most certainly have a caustic effect on our happiness.
Now, I make logical blunders just like the next one, but something about this job–>misery premise seemed dubious.
So I did a bit of sleuthing and discovered some amazing facts:
Jobs are the reason your iPhone exists. They’re the reason that there’s food at the supermarket, gas at the gas station, and that your house is standing. Jobs are the way by which we create all the stuff you see currently surrounding you.
Jobs don’t create freedom?
Jobs don’t create wealth?
Jobs don’t create happiness?
You know what doesn’t create freedom, wealth, and happiness?
Infectious disease. Starvation. Poverty. Oppression of 49% of the population because of their sex chromosomes.
You know what either directly or indirectly destroys these things?
This fact is perfectly exemplified by the folks of Arwa Amba, a village in Ethopia (country 173 out of 187 on the Human Development Index) that has gone from an average annual salary of $3 to $300 in 10 years.
Now, to put that in perspective, that’s like starting your career at McDonalds today for $15,000 a year, and making $1.5 million a year a decade from now.
And they did it – get this – with those nasty, horrible, soul-crushing monsters called JOBS. Practically everyone there has one! Seriously, they’re all the rage – BIGGER than Bieber! The 400 or-so villagers of Arwa Amba do it completely differently than the rest of the country. Eschewing the religious traditions of Islam and Christianity common to the region and making no distinction between women and men when it comes to the labor force in a place where women are generally 2nd class citizens, the community has worked together to increase its wealth 100-fold over the last decade instead of just praying for it.
“Members of the community work six days a week. Five days of work are for the cooperative, one day of labor is to support elders, orphans and those who are weaker. The last day of the week can be spent as individuals like.” (read the full article here)
Those selfish fucking fucks. Empowering women. Eradicating poverty. Emancipating themselves.
Someone ought to tell them that, if they quit their jobs and start their own businesses that teach other people how they can quit their jobs – then maybe finally they’ll realize that life is too short not to spend it living their passion and some other shit like that.
Guess they must all be suffering from a negative, defeatist mindset.
Seriously. I hope you can see how absolutely insane this marketing crap sounds when confronted with reality.
“But Andrew,” I can hear somebody saying, “I don’t live in an impoverished, malaria-ridden part of the world. I can do whatever I want!”
I’m going to take a few, deep breaths and explain 2,000 years of human experience and all of economics really, really slowly.
The. Reason. We. Are. Wealthy. Is. Because. We. MADE. Things.
Crazy, beautiful, wonderful things like indoor plumbing, irrigation systems, wheels, lighthouses, trains, vaccinations (anti-vaxers get my next rant…), cheese, books, candles, and Air Jordans.
Yes, yes, of course there are other forms of wealth outside of material goods, I talk about them all over this blog. But the fact is that we’re only able to skim over this blog post on our tablets because somebody MADE THEM.
See the connection?
I’d like to take a moment to share a quote from my favorite guru:
“There’s no such thing as a stable job.”
-every guru ever
Can you guess who said that? Of course not! They all say it.
Now let’s try this one, I made it myself. See if you can spot the pattern:
“There’s no such thing as a stable relationship.”
See the problem?
I’ll give you a hint: Just because we can use words to form a coherent, grammatically correct sentence doesn’t make said sentence true.
So maybe the average college grad will now have 6 jobs over their lifetime instead of 1 or 2. Who gives a banana’s handle? That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work. Can you imagine your stern, Serbian uncle (or whomever) that, since you’ll likely end up changing jobs at some point, best not even try?
Apparently the uncles of gurus are a bunch of quitters, and they want you to join them.
I know what it’s like having no money and no prospects because my body was a dysfunctional wreck, so I get it, I really do. People are freaking out because the economy is in the toilet and it looks like Mitch, the Greek god of 7% annual growth, is about to flush us into oblivion. The solution, of course, is to have all the best and brightest flee the corporate world and become back-alley watch salepersons.
“Pssst. Hey buddy, Wanna buy a Bolex?”
Which reminds me of a story my uncle used to tell us wee ones around the non-denominational, winter-solstice pine-tree about dragon huntin’.
There once was an ambitious young man from a quiet, modest little town. Most of the people in this town were farmers, bakers, shoe makers, and other modest professions suitable for a town of such average humbleness.
But this young man was different, he wanted to be somebody. A success. To stand out from the crowd (which gathered around St. Eugene’s square every Sunday after church for about half an hour).
So one day, he came up with his plan. He was going to become a dragon hunter. Undaunted by the risks, he sold what little goods he had and set off to find a master who could teach him the art of dragon hunting. In a little cottage by the woods, just several miles from town, he had an unexpected stroke of luck! The man there was a retired dragon hunter living out his glory days in peace, but he would teach our hero – for a price.
The master told the young man that he would need years of training before going into the field – after, all, dragon hunting was no laughing matter – and the young man didn’t have enough gold to pay for such lengthy schooling. So they came to an agreement. Every day, the young man would chop firewood, cook, clean the stable, do repairs, and occasional other tasks around the property in return for becoming the master’s final apprentice.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. And months into years. The apprentice learned skills with the sword, the bow and arrow. He learned how to ride a horse. He learned the art of camouflage. He learned about the anatomy of dragons, their abilities in battle, their strengths, weaknesses, and psychology. He also cooked, and cleaned, and chopped, and stitched. And his skills grew more and more impressive as each season went by.
Every year, the apprentice would ask if he was ready. “Not yet”, the master replied, “there is much you don’t yet understand about hunting dragons.”
Finally, after 10 years had passed, the young man was ready – though he was no longer a young man. He had been transformed into a formidable, cunning man, hardened by years of training and cleaning horse manure.
And thanking the master he set off, into the forest, to find his dragon.
He searched high into the mountains, down into the valleys, across rivers and around lakes, through villages even tinier than his own and cities so grand their castles had castles. He searched the marshes and bogs, the plains and savannahs, the cliffs and the gorges, and not a dragon to be found.
Finally, he returned to the master. “There are no dragons,” he said, glaring into the stony face of the master. A statement, not a question. The master simply returned the stare, silently confirming this fact.
“Then what am I supposed to do with all these dragon hunting skills? I spent ten years mastering the sword and shield, the bow and arrow, and riding; I’ve learned all about the tactics and strategy of fighting dragons in the forest, on the plains, near water, and in mountains; I’ve learned the differences between 17 different species and…and…I smell like horse crap! I pray thee tell – WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?”
“Why, do what I did,” said the master, bemused, “Teach others how to hunt dragons.”
We all want to lead better lives, but can we please, for the sake of Christ, Buddha, Mohammad, and Rumpelstiltskin please stop focusing on this “quit your job – fire your boss” mania and start focusing on creating new, interesting, and valuable things?
If all the people that claimed they had a passion for helping others stopped deluding themselves and actually took a second to look at the people who most need our help, they wouldn’t be quitting their 6-figure jobs to start a unicorn-selling business and encouraging others to do the same. They would realize that $100,000 is more than 2 billion+ of their fellow human beings will ever get to see in their individual lifetimes, suck up the fact that they don’t get to indulge every single hedonistic fantasy they dream up, set an income limit and put 50-80% of that income to work helping those people get access to clean water, electricity, and medical care.
Oh right. Those people.
They exist and they matter. And by helping them move beyond “survival mode” we’ll have 2 billion+ people who will help us cure cancer, do brain surgery, invent new technologies, create & transmit new cultural ideas, build high-speed trains, and so much more.
I haven’t figured out exactly how to do all this myself (it’s one reason for my current/1st ever job hunt), but I do know that one: It’s worth figuring out. Two: That I’m damn well going to figure it out. Three: That when we stop making mistakes our results improve. And four: It’s mathematically irresponsible (not to mention impossible) to try to shove more and more people into the “top 1%”. Most people, thanks to things we may call “facts” or “laws”, will have an average financial existence. And it’s time we get used to the fact that there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.
When Steve Jobs said in his Stanford commencement speech that people should do what they love because that’s how great things are made, he wasn’t referring to this pyramid-shaped, incestuous, slobber-fest of teaching the next guy up how to build a passion business that teaches people how to build passion businesses.
I just saw an interview with a guy who quit his job to live in [redacted SE Asian paradise], who now makes a living teaching people how to quit their jobs so they can live in some exotic place. I read the comments about how inspirational his story was.
THAT IS NOT A THING! That is not a skill, or a service, or ANYTHING! It’s a sick joke.
We can continue creating a world where THAT is what we aspire to do – or we can say, “wait a minute, having a job that empowers me not only to feed my family, but to help 10s or 100s of my fellow human beings who are suffering isn’t such a horrible thing after all.Sure, the hours are long, my boss can be a bit of a pain, and some of the projects can be a nightmare, but there’s really no better way for me to make a difference given these circumstances.”
And it’s you and I who have to make the change – the people who buy in to this dream. The ones perpetuating it have too much at stake to stop – even the ones with the best of intentions and the ones whom I consider friends. And really, that’s the worst part – most of the people perpetuating this nonsense tend to be just as much the victims of an insane ideology as their rabid followers.
When you opt out – you’re sending a message to the gurus that this isn’t good enough, that tangible contribution is what the world needs. You’re cutting the positive feedback AND the funding of this delusional message.
As for your contribution to the world, it doesn’t have to be charity work or volunteering. Install some solar panels on your house. Start growing your own food. Recycle your water. Learn to knit, sew, or do wood construction. Learn to make things instead of just consuming them. Chances are you’ll be a lot happier, regardless of your current employment situation.
Or you can buy my new course: Easy Internet Billions.
Up to you.
Recommended Reading: Easy Internet Billions:The Untold Secrets of Instant, Infinite Wealth