Awakening Possibility


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It is obvious to see that our current educational system is not in the business of creating leaders, thinkers, artists, visionaries, innovators or revolutionaries. I’m a college student. And I go to class everyday and sit in rows with a bunch of assimilators, all fighting to fit in. Fighting to get all the answers right and afraid of taking risks. Fighting to wear the right clothes and own the right computer (ie. Apple). Fighting to join the right clubs and organizations. Fighting to be like everybody else. Fighting to score the job. The job that we have been guaranteed for a century if we follow the system. The job that has guaranteed us safety, security, benefits, insurance, and a retirement plan. The job that takes care of us if we are obedient and follow the rules. The job that promotes thoughtless employees; factory workers. People who are given the instructions and are told to execute accordingly. People who don’t have to bring anything unique to the table.

There are thousands of jobs like these all around us. Just look around. Fast Food Industry, Retail, Cashiers, Teachers, Doctors, etc. So many of us are striving to fit into these titles; these boxes. And once we’re in, we think we’re safe. But this last recession proved otherwise. Now there are TOO MANY Slim Shady’s. Too many clones. Too many people with the same degrees, credentials and accomplishments. Now you’re no longer as valuable. Why? Because there are 1,000 others who can do what you do, and can probably do it cheaper. Now you’re easily replaceable.

Ok, back to life as a college student in the matrix.

Think about it. Thousands of college students (like me) graduating every semester with a generic degree and a butt-load of debt right out the game. We’re clones looking for the degree to give us some sort of value. We act alike and think alike. Sitting in classrooms with nothing unique to say or offer. Programmed through years of standardized testing to shut up, sit down, and assimilate. So I’m sitting in class. And I look around. Most of us could care less about the class or the subject. We just want the grade. Why? Because the grade means we get the degree and the degree means we get the job. But something is happening.

The game is changing.

And it seems that having degrees is becoming less and less important. So now America is scared. Everybody’s looking for some solution. I actually heard one of my professors tell a student in class,

“Now is the best time to stay in school. Get your masters. Get your doctorate. Since the job market is rough, why not use this time to stack up on your degrees?”

I’m sure you would agree that this is sound advice, right? Well, after hearing that, I thought to myself, how STUPID is that! Sounds like yet another cop-out to me. In other words, rack up more student loan debt in HOPES that the job market will be favorable in the future. Bet your life on an assumption. You’re telling me that instead of using my BRAIN and thinking of ways to create my own career, it’s better to assimilate, and hope my degrees will buy my way in. But here’s the hard question… What if it doesn’t?

What I see is this…

Companies are downsizing. They know they can do things cheaper and faster without a lot of employee-overhead. They can outsource their needs to those willing to work for cheap. They can design machines to replace workers. They can hire niche agencies to handle their design and marketing and strategizing. There’s less of a need to lock in another clone employee for 5 years and promise them benefits, a 401(k), and an awesome salary.

So the graduating 22 year old who is in $40,000+ student loan debt with another $5,000+ in credit card debit has two options…

1. Take the first crappy job they can find.
2. Go back to school and rack up on more degrees.

But now there’s a THIRD option.

This option requires you to think. This option forces you to take the risk of being unique. This option won’t let you assimilate. This option challenges you to discover your strengths and talents. This option requires you to CRUSH IT. This option demands that you bring something remarkable to the table. This option asks you to be YOU.

Think I’m kidding. Here are two really great reads that I would recommend you check out…

CRUSH IT
Linchpin

…This all builds on the importance of self-education. For example, I practically taught myself how to do graphic and web design; and within months, I turned it into a full-fledge freelance business. No classes, no textbook; just a lot of hours of hard work and passion.

Thanks to the internet and social media, anybody with an idea, a current business, or a conversation can get infront of 2,000,000,000+ people online at any moment. In other words… I can build my own brand, my own business, my own movement. Never has there been a time where a college student like me can sit in his room and reach thousands with a click of a button.

The reason this is SO important is that we no longer have to “settle” for a job. We can create and bring our gifts, talents, and voices to the world. We no longer have to hide behind our college degrees and just hope for the best. The web has opened up the door for anybody hungry enough to say something or do something remarkable.

I finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s book – CRUSH IT – a few months ago and I immediately began applying some of the things he suggested in the book. I’ve seen tangible results. For example, the number of people requesting my graphic and web design has almost TRIPLED since January 2010, and I’ve begun to meet some really neat people online. After reading Seth Godin’s book – Linchpin – my perspective changed even more and my drive to follow my passion and create my career is increased by the day.

It’s amazing how everybody always wants you to fit into their tiny boxes so they can understand and define you.

Here’s a note I wrote to myself a few days ago about EVERYBODY…

“EVERYBODY is watching the football game, playing the Wii, watching the Grammys, and American Idol. EVERYBODY is going to college and sending out resumes and hoping to score a job. EVERYBODY is wearing the latest fashion and texting on the latest phone. EVERYBODY is in debt, charging up credit cards to fit in. EVERYBODY is listening to EVERYBODY.

Here’s the new rule: “Ignore EVERYBODY”

Why? Because…

EVERYBODY won’t do something remarkable. EVERYBODY won’t make a difference. EVERYBODY won’t find problems and solve them. EVERYBODY won’t see the opportunity and seize the opportunity. EVERYBODY won’t take risks. EVERYBODY won’t think, create, or design anything new. EVERYBODY won’t lead. EVERYBODY won’t challenge the status quo. EVERYBODY won’t leave a legacy worth remembering.

But SOMEBODY will.

And that SOMEBODY is you.”

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4 Comments

  • January 28, 2010Reply

    Chris Harlan

    Good stuff.

  • February 5, 2010Reply

    Christina

    I'm seeing some interesting things out there as I go on numerous interviews, meet with countless recruiters, etc.

    I only have an associate's degree and graduated in 2000.

    I keep wondering if I should go back to school, but honestly I don't care for the big time safe career up the ladder position so the idea of more debt is not cool to me. I kind of feel like just taking classes that will help me learn what I really want to know and do, and go from there. Or educate myself, find a place to volunteer, etc.

    But I get all kinds of "grown-ups" (I'm almost 30) questioning why I don't have a husband or a career yet. Hah...guess I'm worthless to society, eh? Nope! My qualifications come from God alone. He's got some plans for me and I'm following Him all the way.

    Good post! Gonna check out those books you linked to.

  • February 5, 2010Reply

    Antwon Davis

    @Chris - Thanks man!

    @Christina - I agree with you on the importance of self-education. I practically learned how to design by teaching myself, and within months, I turned it into a full-fledge freelance business. No classes, no textbook; just a lot of hours of hard work and passion.

    What I'm finding to be most amazing from the insights of Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk is that the game is changing. Thanks to the internet and social media, anybody with an idea, a current business, or a conversation can get in front of more than 2 billion people online at any moment. I can build my own brand, my own business, my own movement. Never has there been a time where a college student like me can sit in his room and reach thousands with a click of a button.

    The reason this is so important is that we no longer have to "settle" for a job. We can create and bring our gifts, talents, and voices to the world. We no longer have to hide behind our college degrees and just hope for the best. The web has opened up the door for anybody hungry enough to say something or do something remarkable.

    I finished Gary Vaynerchuk's book - CRUSH IT - a few months ago and I immediately began applying some of the things he suggested in the book. I've seen tangible results. My clientele for design work has almost doubled and I've begun to meet some really neat people (like you) online. I'm currently reading Seth Godin's book - Linchpin - and I can already see that my perspective is changing and my drive to follow my passion and create my career is increasing by the day.

    Referring to your statement about the "grown-ups", it's amazing how everybody always wants you to fit into their tiny boxes so they can understand and define you. Here's a note I wrote to myself a few days ago about EVERYBODY...

    - - - - -

    EVERYBODY is watching the football game, playing the Wii, watching the Grammys, and American Idol. EVERYBODY is going to college and sending out resumes and hoping to score a job. EVERYBODY is wearing the latest fashion and texting on the latest phone. EVERYBODY is in debt, charging up credit cards to fit in. EVERYBODY is listening to EVERYBODY.

    Here's the new rule: "Ignore EVERYBODY"

    Why? Because...

    EVERYBODY won't do something remarkable. EVERYBODY won't make a difference. EVERYBODY won't find problems and solve them. EVERYBODY won't see the opportunity and seize the opportunity. EVERYBODY won't take risks. EVERYBODY won't think, create, or design anything new. EVERYBODY won't lead. EVERYBODY won't challenge the status quo. EVERYBODY won't leave a legacy worth remembering.

    But SOMEBODY will.

    And that SOMEBODY is you.

  • November 3, 2010Reply

    Korin

    I think we need to reconsider how we look at college. In previous generations, a college degree of any kind was a ticket to success. Nowadays there are a large number of graduates, and this is no longer the case. We should look carefully at which type of degrees we choose. It may be important to choose a degree that provides you with the necessary preparation for an in demand career upon graduation. If one spends four years on a degree that doesn't lend itself to a position that is in demand, one could argue that it would have been a better choice to spend those four years working and earning money. It appears that many short term technical programs (for example dental/medical assisting) that provide specific training for in demand fields can be much more valuable than many four year degrees, and certainly are much more cost effective. I think we need to analyze the cost and benefits of furthering ones education even when choosing undergraduate degrees.

    In my case, I have varied interest such as writing and music, and have entrepreneurial goals that are far removed from engineering. However, I chose engineering because despite the recession it is still a very in demand field, and there were many undergraduate scholarship opportunities. I also liked that it is a pretty broad field. Since I change my mind all the time and, I needed a degree that was flexible enough to provide preparation for a variety of unrelated professional fields (med school,dental school,law school,etc) while offering a variety of immediate job opportunities if I chose not to further my education. I did not want to be in the position of "having" to go to graduate school.

    I decided to attend graduate school and further my education not because it increased my job opportunities, but because I had a desire to further my learning. I also liked the fact that engineering graduate school is very much like a normal job in that students are paid a salary for their research, and tuition is waived.

    There is a good chance that I will graduate, open up a bakery/coffee shop, and sell cupcakes the rest of my life. However, just in case that doesn't work out, I have other career options, and a degree that will allow me to save the required capital to start my businesses. I enjoy what I am doing, but I don't feel pigeon holed by my degree, and don't feel obligated to ever use it.

    There are of course MAJOR drawbacks to my decisions. The more marketable four year degrees (for example: engineering, nursing,accounting, actuarial sciences, etc) in general provide much more headaches and sleep deprivation than other options. So, if one considers quality of life in their decision, two year programs begin to look very attractive. Four years is a long time. It's four years that one could have spent hustling to pursue entrepreneurial goals. It's also four years one could have spent working and saving money while learning how to be independent and manage finances.

    We have to begin to consider the economics and to analyze the cost and benefits of different college degrees, and college in general from the very beginning. College isn't necessarily financially beneficial to everyone as it may have been in the past. I think that soon people will begin to see that generic degrees are no longer as marketable and there will be shift toward 1-2 year training programs. In many cases, those options might provide the most bang for your buck.

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