Why you will fail to have a great career | Larry Smith | TEDxUW

Why you will fail to have a great career | Larry Smith | TEDxUW

Translator: Camille Martínez
Reviewer: Lalla Khadija Tigha Thank you. I want to discuss with you this afternoon why you’re going to fail
to have a great career. (Laughter) I’m an economist. I do dismal. End of the day, it’s ready
for dismal remarks. I only want to talk to those of you
who want a great career. I know some of you have already decided
you want a good career. You’re going to fail, too. (Laughter) Because — goodness,
you’re all cheery about failing. (Laughter) Canadian group, undoubtedly. (Laughter) Those trying to have good careers
are going to fail, because, really, good jobs
are now disappearing. There are great jobs and great careers, and then there are the high-workload, high-stress, bloodsucking,
soul-destroying kinds of jobs, and practically nothing in-between. So people looking for good jobs
are going to fail. I want to talk about those
looking for great jobs, great careers, and why you’re going to fail. First reason is that no matter
how many times people tell you, “If you want a great career,
you have to pursue your passion, you have to pursue your dreams,
you have to pursue the greatest fascination in your life,” you hear it again and again,
and then you decide not to do it. It doesn’t matter
how many times you download Steven J.’s Stanford commencement address, you still look at it
and decide not to do it. I’m not quite sure
why you decide not to do it. You’re too lazy to do it. It’s too hard. You’re afraid if you look
for your passion and don’t find it, you’ll feel like you’re an idiot,
so then you make excuses about why you’re not going
to look for your passion. They are excuses, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going to go through
a whole long list — your creativity in thinking of excuses
not to do what you really need to do if you want to have a great career. So, for example,
one of your great excuses is: (Sigh) “Well, great careers are
really and truly, for most people, just a matter of luck. So I’m going to stand around,
I’m going to try to be lucky, and if I’m lucky,
I’ll have a great career. If not, I’ll have a good career.” But a good career is an impossibility,
so that’s not going to work. Then, your other excuse is, “Yes, there are special people
who pursue their passions, but they are geniuses. They are Steven J. I’m not a genius. When I was five, I thought I was a genius, but my professors have beaten that idea
out of my head long since.” (Laughter) “And now I know
I am completely competent.” Now, you see, if this was 1950, being completely competent — that would have given you a great career. But guess what? This is almost 2012,
and saying to the world, “I am totally, completely competent,” is damning yourself
with the faintest of praise. And then, of course, another excuse: “Well, I would do this,
I would do this, but, but — well, after all, I’m not weird. Everybody knows that people
who pursue their passions are somewhat obsessive. A little strange. Hmm? Hmm? OK? You know, a fine line
between madness and genius. “I’m not weird. I’ve read
Steven J.’s biography. Oh my goodness —
I’m not that person. I am nice. I am normal. I’m a nice, normal person,
and nice, normal people — don’t have passion.” (Laughter) “Ah, but I still want a great career. I’m not prepared to pursue my passion, so I know what I’m going to do, because I have a solution. I have a strategy. It’s the one Mommy
and Daddy told me about. Mommy and Daddy told me
that if I worked hard, I’d have a good career. So, if you work hard
and have a good career, if you work really, really, really hard, you’ll have a great career. Doesn’t that, like,
mathematically make sense?” Hmm. Not. But you’ve managed
to talk yourself into that. You know what? Here’s a little secret: You want to work? You want to work
really, really, really hard? You know what? You’ll succeed. The world will give you the opportunity to work really, really,
really, really hard. But, are you so sure that that’s going to give you
a great career, when all the evidence is to the contrary? So let’s deal with those of you
who are trying to find your passion. You actually understand
that you really had better do it, never mind the excuses. You’re trying to find your passion — (Sigh) and you’re so happy. You found something you’re interested in. “I have an interest! I have an interest!” You tell me. You say, “I have an interest!”
I say, “That’s wonderful! And what are you trying to tell me?” “Well, I have an interest.” I say, “Do you have passion?” “I have an interest,” you say. “Your interest is compared to what?” “Well, I’m interested in this.” “And what about the rest
of humanity’s activities?” “I’m not interested in them.” “You’ve looked at them all, have you?” “No. Not exactly.” Passion is your greatest love. Passion is the thing that will help you create
the highest expression of your talent. Passion, interest —
it’s not the same thing. Are you really going to go
to your sweetie and say, “Marry me! You’re interesting.” (Laughter) Won’t happen. Won’t happen, and you will die alone. (Laughter) What you want, what you want, what you want, is passion. It is beyond interest. You need 20 interests,
and then one of them, one of them might grab you, one of them might engage you
more than anything else, and then you may have found
your greatest love, in comparison to all the other things
that interest you, and that’s what passion is. I have a friend, proposed to his sweetie. He was an economically rational person. He said to his sweetie, “Let us marry. Let us merge our interests.” (Laughter) Yes, he did. “I love you truly,” he said.
“I love you deeply. I love you more than any other woman
I’ve ever encountered. I love you more than Mary,
Jane, Susie, Penelope, Ingrid, Gertrude, Gretel — I was on a German exchange program then. I love you more than –” All right. She left the room halfway through his enumeration
of his love for her. After he got over his surprise
at being, you know, turned down, he concluded he’d had a narrow escape from marrying an irrational person. Although, he did make a note to himself
that the next time he proposed, it was perhaps not necessary to enumerate all of the women
he had auditioned for the part. (Laughter) But the point stands. You must look for alternatives
so that you find your destiny, or are you afraid of the word “destiny”? Does the word “destiny” scare you? That’s what we’re talking about. And if you don’t find
the highest expression of your talent, if you settle for “interesting,”
what the hell ever that means, do you know what will happen
at the end of your long life? Your friends and family will be
gathered in the cemetery, and there beside your gravesite
will be a tombstone, and inscribed on that tombstone it will say, “Here lies
a distinguished engineer, who invented Velcro.” But what that tombstone should have said, in an alternative lifetime, what it should have said if it was
your highest expression of talent, was, “Here lies the last
Nobel Laureate in Physics, who formulated
the Grand Unified Field Theory and demonstrated
the practicality of warp drive.” (Laughter) Velcro, indeed! (Laughter) One was a great career. One was a missed opportunity. But then, there are some of you who, in spite of all these
excuses, you will find, you will find your passion. And you’ll still fail. You’re going to fail, because — because you’re not going to do it, because you will have
invented a new excuse, any excuse to fail to take action, and this excuse, I’ve heard so many times: “Yes, I would pursue a great career, but, I value human relationships — (Laughter) more than accomplishment. I want to be a great friend. I want to be a great spouse. I want to be a great parent, and I will not sacrifice them on the altar of great accomplishment.” (Laughter) What do you want me to say? Now, do you really want
me to say now, tell you, “Really, I swear I don’t kick children.” (Laughter) Look at the worldview
you’ve given yourself. You’re a hero no matter what. And I, by suggesting ever so delicately that you might want a great career,
must hate children. I don’t hate children. I don’t kick them. Yes, there was a little kid
wandering through this building when I came here, and no,
I didn’t kick him. (Laughter) Course, I had to tell him
the building was for adults only, and to get out. He mumbled something about his mother, and I told him she’d probably
find him outside anyway. Last time I saw him,
he was on the stairs crying. (Laughter) What a wimp. (Laughter) But what do you mean?
That’s what you expect me to say. Do you really think it’s appropriate that you should actually take
children and use them as a shield? You know what will happen someday, you ideal parent, you? The kid will come to you someday and say, “I know what I want to be. I know what I’m going to do with my life.” You are so happy. It’s the conversation
a parent wants to hear, because your kid’s good in math, and you know you’re going to like
what comes next. Says your kid, “I have decided I want to be a magician. I want to perform
magic tricks on the stage.” (Laughter) And what do you say? You say, you say, “That’s risky, kid. Might fail, kid. Don’t make
a lot of money at that, kid. I don’t know, kid, you should
think about that again, kid. You’re so good at math, why don’t you –” The kid interrupts you and says, “But it is my dream.
It is my dream to do this.” And what are you going to say? You know what you’re going to say? “Look kid. I had a dream once, too, but — But –” So how are you going to finish
the sentence with your “but”? “But. I had a dream too, once,
kid, but I was afraid to pursue it.” Or are you going to tell him this: “I had a dream once, kid. But then, you were born.” (Laughter) (Applause) Do you really want to use your family, do you really ever want to look
at your spouse and your kid, and see your jailers? There was something
you could have said to your kid, when he or she said, “I have a dream.” You could have said — looked the kid in the face and said, “Go for it, kid! Just like I did.” But you won’t be able to say that, because you didn’t. So you can’t. (Laughter) And so the sins of the parents are visited on the poor children. Why will you seek refuge
in human relationships as your excuse not to find
and pursue your passion? You know why. In your heart of hearts, you know why, and I’m being deadly serious. You know why you would get
all warm and fuzzy and wrap yourself
up in human relationships. It is because you are — you know what you are. You’re afraid to pursue your passion. You’re afraid to look ridiculous. You’re afraid to try. You’re afraid you may fail. Great friend, great spouse,
great parent, great career. Is that not a package?
Is that not who you are? How can you be one without the other? But you’re afraid. And that’s why you’re not
going to have a great career. Unless — “unless,” that most evocative
of all English words — “unless.” But the “unless” word is also attached to that other, most terrifying phrase, “If only I had …” “If only I had …” If you ever have that thought
ricocheting in your brain, it will hurt a lot. So, those are the many reasons why you are going to fail to have a great career. Unless — Unless. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Why you will fail to have a great career | Larry Smith | TEDxUW

  1. The lie that if you work hard you'll get somewhere is the biggest lie people have been told. The world is full of hardworking people who will get nowhere.

  2. Keep in mind kiddies, when you're on your death-bed it won't be your accomplishments that fulfill you, but the relationships you make whilst making those accomplishments. Never forget to be a human.

  3. Maybe this advice works for some but I can’t help but feel like this is terrible for most people. Passion is a feeling. Feelings change. Should you really base your entire life based on something as fleeting as a feeling? I’ll pass.

  4. Uhm… some people just quantifiable aren’t attractive, smart or capable enough to make it to the top. Deal with it?

  5. One of the best short talks. Most of us fail due to the fear of failure and thinking about future consequences which itself is uncertain! The key is to have a versatile career and a passionate heart! Yes we fail and we rise!

  6. I think the most thought provoking line I took from this was that parents don't and can't tell their children to follow their dreams because they didn't either.

  7. This might sound nice, but not realistic. People are passionate about things that can't be monetized, and the things that can be monetized are not at all enjoyable for people to do. Common passions = art, music, culture, sports, helping the poor. Common careers = sales, accounting, law, civil engineering.

  8. What if my passion has no practical value and use? What if my passion is never going to get me a great career?

  9. By proposing some initial negative notions and ending his speech by making the use of "unless" which also bears negative meaning, he is conveying a positive message that while we are capable to invent a great amount of reasons not to pursue our passion (great career), we are also capable to invent a great amount of reasons to pursue our passion.

  10. this man has something Andreas Antonopolous has as well.
    Kinda same choise of words, both seem to walk the same as well.

  11. Unless you do it despite the fear keeping you back.

    We sabotage ourselves more than anyone else can. That fear that locks and chains us to where we are is mostly more damaging that anything bad that comes from opportunities we could pursue. Every opportunity we reject comes back to haunt us.

    If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm. (Right most of the time.)

  12. Wait… so he is saying that you can sacrifice your children and spouse on the altar of a great career and that’s OK?

  13. I wanna go for something related to arts but ik that i will be someone broke if i will finally be thrown into the real world.
    Im also unlucky with looks so i will die alone probably outside on a bench.

  14. The gentelman has a point. He discribed all fears that come with progression and you will over come them if you are really serious.

  15. Right now.. I'm SO GLAD AND HAPPY that I'm not too late to watch this talk. This is my favorite talk.

  16. I don't know how much I'm using my health as an excuse career wise, but I know for a fact that I'm not using it as an excuse for my hobbies and other passions. I had to quit my years of running, I couldn't get past a yellow belt in karate, I kept trying different forms of dancing and was a fast learner, but couldn't continue, I'm still doing qi gong, and my own modified yoga and I can still go for walks which I'm so grateful for because there was a period when I couldn't.

  17. It's good to have passions and dreams, as long as your dreams aren't an Ideal that commercials are creating for you to live up to so that you'll buy their products or programs or an Ideal that no real relationship or career can live up to or be appreciated in it's own right, or something that makes you ignore and miss all the little things in life which are important.

  18. I believe you mean the man who invented the hook and loop fastener. Copyright saved; you're welcome Velcro Brand :P.

  19. What if you're not passionate about anything and you don't realy have any interests?
    How do you find an interest or passion?

  20. I have spent over a decade attempting to find a profession that I had a consistent obsession and adherence to, but I failed to do so. Thus, according to this guy I have no passion. After all, from a psychological point of view passion is a mere emotion and is often driven by fluctuating emotional impulses that urge an individual towards a seemingly compelling career. It is often said that if you are experiencing emotions such as gratification, satisfaction and fulfillment during the practice of a profession then that position is not only an "interest" but it is a passion and is a career that you have a fundamental connection to. I think instead of claiming that people should follow their passion, we should instead assert that people should occupy professions that yield passion. Positions that are needed by society and when the worker directly realizes that indeed he/she is contributing to his/her society. This will permit the individual to develop strong adherence and commitment to the position. Also, I think more importantly people should occupy positions that they are competent and skilled at. This is mainly because a substantial amount of psychology research has shown that positive feedback, which is a result of success in the relevant field can prompt the individual to become eager to perform even better. I believe this avenue, in which an individual starts at an advantageous position and continues to progress with increasing motivation is the avenue that will contribute most to society and thus will be more rewarding for the individual. So, I don't think that people should follow what they are "passionate about" because that is likely to change, which will lead an individual through multiple career shifts, which is neither practical nor convenient. I think we should assume a position that greatly contributes to our society's circumstances and one that is most impactful because after all "service comes before self".

  21. aaaand what if you don't have a specific passion? what if you don't have a dream? what if you don't know what you really want to do with your life?

    'I could do anything, if only I knew what I want'

  22. Do you other Asian kids like me hear from parents;
    “You can pursue your passion once you’ve done having a stable career.”
    Isn’t it ridiculous?
    You already kill the passion and then ask for it to be reborn? Don’t you parents hate to ask that? You’re begging your children to become doctors and lawyers just so you can hold up that steady place you have in society. You can’t possibly imagine going around and saying your child has failed at something.
    It’s so weird.
    I respect my parents and all. But I wish they were brave enough to recognise that passion is something greater than a career.

  23. to the people who says " They are happy in their job ". I'm happy for you. but please check on yourself again. why did you come to visit this video in 1st place? please don't miss the point between feeling great in ur own job. and feeling great in your comfort zone. don't let your brain trick you.

  24. Speaker: Canadian crowd surely!!
    Canadian in crowd : HAHAHAHAHA
    (laughs loudly to show he is Canadian)

    Awww humans you are all so cute❤️

  25. It is a deadly serious topic he were speaking. I think those audiences laughed because they knew in the heart he was telling the truth but the idea is too brutal for them to comprehend and accept. I won't blame them because it is indeed very brutal to accept the fact that you might have pursued the wrong career the whole life. Everyone is laughing but in the inside, their true self little kid is weeping 😢

  26. I just want to do comic books and character building, studying industrial engineering is great and all but sometimes it feels empty.

  27. I think he makes the mistake of confusing passion with fulfillment and this is just misleading to people. He starts the talk with the right tone: there are simply not enought great carreers available. Even if all the people in the world had the right mindset that he speaks about, they would not all achieve it.
    If you dont end up doing what you love most, dont blame yourself, its not up to just you. Find things you love doing, there is not just one and you dont have to make a career out of it. If you manage to make a living out of it, better.

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