And what you can do about it.
The Last Castrato.
For centuries in Europe, cathedral choirs refused to accept women. They got their soprano voices another way: castrating talented male singers before they reached puberty. I know… it’s a pretty heavy decision for 10-year-old to make.
But indulge me and put yourself in the place of Alessandro Moreschi, the last castrato. His career choice was based on certain assumptions about the world, music, and churches. Yet, a few short years after he went under the blade, the practice of castration was banned.
Eventually, the Pope had all castrato singers replaced. And so, until retirement, he tried to adapt as a solo artist. When he died in 1922, he was the final relic of a bygone era. I believe Gen Y is a bit like the last castrato – trained for a world that will soon cease to exist.
Breaking the Beehive Mentality.
Schools don’t just give us work, they teach us how to work. We advance through levels of seniority by completing assignments, impressing superiors, and eventually finish as the big guy on top. Just like a job… used to be.
Today nobody relies on a single firm for a lifetime of employment and comfortable retirement. People change jobs every 2 years, companies every 3, and industries every 4. Between entering college and turning 40, most of you will have gone through 11 jobs.
My business school at Boston University was literally designed to mimic a beehive. As we buzzed through assignments with slow and steady progress, few realized that the ways we were learning to work were hopelessly irrelevant.
We no longer climb a single corporate ladder; we incessantly jump from one to another. In this important way, school emphasizes a way of working that does not reflect the working world. In fact, our education focuses on the exact skills that are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Finding Your Roadmap.
The forward momentum provided by schools vanishes at graduation. Your employers will not have a long-term plan for you; you need your own roadmap for success. How do you know what the right next step is?
Without a vision for your career and a motivating sense of personal purpose, it is nearly impossible to navigate the rapidly shifting workplace. Too many people succeed only when the assignment is provided to them, but fail miserably at creating their own assignments.
What are you best at? What are your innate skills and aptitudes? How can you express them in a way that provides value to today’s world? Put your focus here, on reality, and you will continually find new ways to apply yourself in different jobs and industries.
Yoga teaches that the true guru is the one inside of you. Let your own soul be your personal roadmap for the world. You will grow in your abilities and gain a diversity of experiences that will make you invaluable wherever you go.
Tapping Your Creative Juices.
I know too many talented engineers that spent time meticulously tutoring overseas partners, only to find out that they trained their own replacements. Put your ego aside. You may have skills, but they can be purchased cheaper elsewhere.
Education today is a left-hemisphere brain activity. It teaches us skills, works in a linear fashion, and let us deduce based on known patterns. Great for rote memorization and repetitive activities, but completely inept at forming new ideas.
Success outside of the beehive comes from your own creativity and inspiration. Google’s algorithm, Nike’s brand, and Craig’s list – these assets come from the mind of an innovator. They cannot be produced on assembly lines, or be easily replicated by competitors.
In the coming business era, the exact things that hurt you in school will make you successful. Whether it’s your passion for literature, music, or my favorite, yoga, activities that break you out of deduction mode and let you actually experience the world will be crucial.
The Bottom Line.
You can either think about life or you can live. By tapping both left and right brain hemispheres, you fully experience life and intuitively arrive at new ideas. This creativity is the path to success for our generation. It has never been easier to put a new idea into motion.
Yet we have been discouraged from doing so at every step. We are trained to mitigate weaknesses instead of building on strengths. This creates mediocrity, not excellence. We are taught that skills trump creativity. This creates replaceable employees, not visionaries.
Most career centers focus on being recruited, leaving would-be entrepreneurs with few resources. But if you truly want to be an innovator, turn to your number one product first: yourself. Break out of the beehive mentality, learn who you are, create a personal roadmap, and learn to embrace your own creativity.