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Old May 2 2014, 11:47 PM   #1
urbandefault
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Become Indispensable

Forwarded in an email, it's brilliant. If more people looked at life this way, there would be a lot more success, and a lot less complaining.

“Become indispensable”: Mike Rowe delivers some of the best career advice that everyone needs to read

In his Saturday “Mail Call” on Facebook the other week, Rowe gave a fan some career advice that you should share with anyone looking for a new job or just now getting started.

Parker wrote:

Hey Mike!

I’ve spent this last year trying to figure out the right career for myself and I still can’t figure out what to do. I have always been a hands on kind of guy and a go-getter. I could never be an office worker. I need change, excitement, and adventure in my life, but where the pay is steady. I grew up in construction and my first job was a restoration project. I love everything outdoors. I play music for extra money. I like trying pretty much everything, but get bored very easily. I want a career that will always keep me happy, but can allow me to have a family and get some time to travel. I figure if anyone knows jobs its you so I was wondering your thoughts on this if you ever get the time! Thank you!

Parker Hall

Mike Rowe wrote back on his Facebook page:

Hi Parker

My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a “hands-on go-getter,” you’re qualified for the work. But after reading your post a second time, it occurs to me that your qualifications are not the reason you can’t find the career you want.

I had drinks last night with a woman I know. Let’s call her Claire. Claire just turned 42. She’s cute, smart, and successful. She’s frustrated though, because she can’t find a man. I listened all evening about how difficult her search has been. About how all the “good ones” were taken. About how her other friends had found their soul-mates, and how it wasn’t fair that she had not.

“Look at me,” she said. “I take care of myself. I’ve put myself out there. Why is this so hard?”

“How about that guy at the end of the bar,” I said. “He keeps looking at you.”
“Not my type.”

“Really? How do you know?”
“I just know.”

“Have you tried a dating site?” I asked.”
“Are you kidding? I would never date someone I met online!”

“Alright. How about a change of scene? Your company has offices all over – maybe try living in another city?”
“What? Leave San Francisco? Never!”

“How about the other side of town? You know, mix it up a little. Visit different places. New museums, new bars, new theaters…?”

She looked at me like I had two heads. “Why the hell would I do that?”

Here’s the thing, Parker. Claire doesn’t really want a man. She wants the “right” man. She wants a soul-mate. Specifically, a soul-mate from her zip code. She assembled this guy in her mind years ago, and now, dammit, she’s tired of waiting!!

I didn’t tell her this, because Claire has the capacity for sudden violence. But it’s true. She complains about being alone, even though her rules have more or less guaranteed she’ll stay that way. She has built a wall between herself and her goal. A wall made of conditions and expectations. Is it possible that you’ve built a similar wall?

Consider your own words. You don’t want a career – you want the “right” career. You need “excitement” and “adventure,” but not at the expense of stability. You want lots of “change” and the “freedom to travel,” but you need the certainty of “steady pay.” You talk about being “easily bored” as though boredom is out of your control. It isn’t. Boredom is a choice. Like tardiness. Or interrupting. It’s one thing to “love the outdoors,” but you take it a step further. You vow to “never” take an office job. You talk about the needs of your family, even though that family doesn’t exist. And finally, you say the career you describe must “always” make you “happy.”

These are my thoughts. You may choose to ignore them and I wouldn’t blame you – especially after being compared to a 42 year old woman who can’t find love. But since you asked…

Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.

Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.

Good luck -

Mike

PS. I’m serious about welding and North Dakota. Those guys are writing their own ticket.

PPS Think I should forward this to Claire?
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Old May 3 2014, 12:24 AM   #2
Dennis
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Re: Become Indispensable

urbandefault wrote: View Post
You talk about being “easily bored” as though boredom is out of your control. It isn’t. Boredom is a choice.
That's certainly true.

urbandefault wrote: View Post
Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel.
That often is, as well.

I don't know that the "today" is relevant; I'm not sure that people were ever different - though I think that public complaining is not considered as undignified as it was a half century or so ago; public everything is a lot more acceptable now.
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Old May 3 2014, 12:36 AM   #3
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: Become Indispensable

urbandefault wrote: View Post
Forwarded in an email, it's brilliant.
Said no one ever.
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Old May 3 2014, 12:51 AM   #4
farmkid
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Re: Become Indispensable

The more I hear Mike Rowe say, the more I like him. The message he's been trying to get out there lately is something a lot of people need to hear.
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Old May 3 2014, 05:43 PM   #5
publiusr
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Re: Become Indispensable

That sounds like something Mike might say--but a lot of things get passed off on e-mails--apocryphal perhaps. For those who wonder what apocryphal means, here is an example:

"During these men's professional lives, Wall Street has become accustomed to getting what it wants from Washington. America's top bankers have an even longer history of not giving a hoot what the public thinks. Sample (possibly apocryphal) quote from the original J.P. Morgan: ' I owe the public nothing.' —Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 23 Feb. 2009


Now I heard Mike himself on camera chide the makers of a billboard that showed a man wearing a workbelt and jeans contrasted with a man wearing a suit and tie.

The billboard--for a college of course--said "Work smart, not hard"
--as if we don't need linemen, repairmen, etc.

The suits seem to think their time is somehow more valuable. Mike really went off on that billboard. All work is noble, and deserves to be compensated.

"start looking for a job. Any job...Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable."

Now that is what I have done, except it is office work, as I would fall over dead out in the field with my ticker wanting to skip. The military didn't want me (4f)--besides I was color blind and have the flattest feet in town anyway.

The problem is that even being indispensable isn't enough.

Many bosses take their workers for granted. One of the myths of talk radio is that the public sector encourages slackers, and the private sector doesn't.

Nothing could be more wrong. While the military is at least partially a meritocracy, the bosses kid can show up (or not), stay early, or late--and the rest of us have to work around him.

But if you are the indispensable one, and you need time off, a sick baby, a funeral, the boss says. "Oh no we can't do without you--you won't have a job here if you--"

There seems to be some brainwashing going on that says you can hate government all you want--but no one should ever say anything bad against your scuzzball employer--and that no employee should ever gripe about anything.

The problem about this tale cited above, is that it reminds me so much of "just so" stories about why folks should be happy with their station in life.

The only reason my Dad ever had anything was because he was a member of the UTU.
I heard this Republican fool who said there shouldn't even be a minimum wage. Call me a thug if you like--but anyone who even thinks that garbage deserves a baseball bat to the bridge of his nose.

Last edited by publiusr; May 3 2014 at 05:56 PM.
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Old May 5 2014, 03:36 AM   #6
M'Sharak
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Re: Become Indispensable

publiusr wrote: View Post
That sounds like something Mike might say--but a lot of things get passed off on e-mails--apocryphal perhaps.
Or not.
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Old May 6 2014, 06:51 PM   #7
Savage Dragon
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Re: Become Indispensable

I totally heard his voice when I read that. Good advice too.
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Old May 6 2014, 07:54 PM   #8
JoeZhang
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Re: Become Indispensable

"own the means of production" covered it for me as life advice.
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