“(..) things started changing rapidly in the 1980s with technological advances and the first big wave of corporate downsizing. Corporations no longer provide lifetime employment and technology has enabled anyone to start a business from anywhere.
What is true today is that having a job is not a good way to build wealth or achieve financial security. Unfortunately, our schools still train people to be good workers. They are not equipped to teach people to be great entrepreneurs.
Schools teach children to sit still, be quiet, memorize information, and take tests. Schools teach children that they are worth more when they get an “A” versus a “C”. These are not skills and beliefs that make people good entrepreneurs.
Schools give children the message that they don’t know what is best for themselves. They must look to the teachers and administrators to decide how they will spend their time. It doesn’t matter if they are enthralled with a book or science experiment, when that bell rings, they better stop what they are doing and hurry on their way so they are not late for the next class. It doesn’t matter if they are hungry or thirsty – they must wait until lunchtime to nourish their bodies. And it doesn’t matter if they are tired, they can wait until they get home to rest.
These are the lessons that I learned in my 23 years in school, college, and graduate school:
Lesson #1: My worth as a human being is determined by my performance. This has grown into an adult belief that I am not OK unless I am getting A+’s in life: important jobs, promotions, lots of money, big house, etc. (After all, our culture tells and shows us what material possessions you need to prove to the world you are getting A+’s.)
Lesson #2: I must look to outside authorities to show me how to live my life. This has grown into an adult belief that my inner intuition, feelings, and body sensations are not to be trusted. I lived my first thirty years in my head, practically cut off from my inner world.
Lesson #3: Life is NOT supposed to be fun. I have lived my life with the belief that life was full of struggle and hardship, that work is not fun, and that I have limited choices.
Schools condition us to look outside of ourselves for answers and guidance. Schools show us that we are not responsible for our own well-being. School conditions us to ignore our inner guidance systems.
I intuitively knew what was best for me at a young age but wasn’t even permitted to express this knowing. I spent most of my 20’s following society’s false promise of happiness and most of my 30’s trying to unlearn the destructive lessons that were force-fed to me in school. (..)”
The above is from an amazing piece of writing by Debra Thorsen from Fearless Guides. I wanted to write about this myself but she completely outdid me and put it in writing better than I could ever have. I’d like to add a technological perspective to it.
**I’m going to make some severe shortcuts and generalizations here, but bare with me. **So the world has all these 9-to-5 corporate drone jobs, right? Jobs were people have to do routine highly specialized and often quite boring tasks. Actually most of my fellow university graduates (even people that actually studied entrepreneurship) are now taking on these jobs, and they tell me first-hand that it’s boring stuff. Fair play to them. But the problem is that many of these jobs and industries make drones out of people over the years. This is not vague hippie corporate hate-speak, you simply become less creative in these kind of jobs, anyone knows that. And people get born highly creative, but then it gets kicked out of them because being creative makes you come up with crazy weird ideas which don’t conform to the norm. And education puts a norm on kids, so that clashes and kids are made to conform as Debra talks about above.
So, why are people walking around in suits showing off their cufflinks and status, when they could just act like the people they are, be honest instead? And maybe have fun? Be nice? Because it fits the whole hierarchical structure of most corporations and making drones out of workers increases stability of productivity, output and the shift in quality of work. The quality of work doesn’t have to be high, it has to be stable, since the output of a company needs to be stable. Randomness and errors are removed from the corporate structure and from its people, its employees.
Why does this suck? It fucks up people. It’d be fine if it just fucks them up at their work, but it fucks them up outside their work. It kills their soul over the years. They become adults. And what’s cool about adults? Well, they’re stable. But so incredibly boring too.
Now here’s why this is luckily going to change very soon. This whole 9-to-5 corporate drone situation we’re in. We have robots now. We have automation. Automate everything you can automate. If a job is repetitive and routine, it probably means you can automate it. Jobs that can’t be automated right now and for a long time coming? Think about jobs that require personal social/physical contact, jobs that require strategy and policy making, jobs that require creativity and the jobs that write the programs for the automation (e.g. programmers and developers). But apart from those, GO AND AUTOMATE ALL THE JOBS!
Of course, I’d say the creative jobs that are left would be most fun. Think about all these creative niche jobs you can now have in this interconnected world. Like what about a hip interior decorator from Brazil who helps choose the right shade of colors for a new clothing retail chain in South East Shezhen, China, without actually visiting China. Or a personal stylist from LA ordering clothes and giving style advice over Skype to a girl in Brussels. You’re also left with important jobs like thinking up the strategy for an organization or writing policy for national governments.
And….the boring routine sucky jobs are removed altogether.
So? The future looks great to me. And happily, the time of routine 9-to-5 drone jobs is over. Now just stir up the educational system so that kids remain expressing themselves creatively when they grow older. More weird kids is what we need who dare to say what’s in their head, and dare to put in the hours of dedicated effort to write, draw, make or build their ideas. Their original, crazy, mad ideas that conceptualize our future world. And after we have these ideas, who’s going to build them? The robots, obviously!
Someone asked me after reading this post what would happen to all the jobs lost, that’s a question that’s on everyone’s radar lately. Either new jobs are created that cannot be automated that replace the old jobs or they don’t. If they don’t, we’ll have a large share of the population worldwide become unemployed and we’ll need to figure out a way how to evenly share society’s resources like food, water and fuel over all the people. Thinking about limiting population growth, e.g. a one-child policy would be useful too, especially if the most important resources remain as scarce as they are now.
P.S. I'm on Twitter too if you'd like to follow more of my stories. And I wrote a book called MAKE about building startups without funding. See a list of my stories or contact me. To get an alert when I write a new blog post, you can subscribe below: