I feel like a ton has happened since we last spoke, so I'm going to try not to ramble on too much. Long story short, I've had a career revelation.
I know, I'm supposed to be the guru on this. But sometimes the student is the teacher, yada yada yada, so here's what happened:
I gave a 12-minute talk last week. This is how it came about:
This talk was on the calendar for the last several months, and like all things that are on the calendar for several months, it was all of the sudden the week of the event and I had no idea what to talk about.
Which is fair enough really, considering how the introduction happened.
So I had this weird panic moment when the "Can you tell us what your talk will be about?" email came in, and I stared out the 10th floor window from my client's office for a minute, and I wrote back:
"I'm gonna talk about the pursuit of many things. Will send slides over later."
And so Thursday came, and I got up and gave my talk. And in a rather meta way, the whole talk was about what I should give talks about.
I started, "I'm not sure if I have a career problem or a personal branding problem. So I'm just coming to you guys with this issue and we can talk through it together."
I told them that I could have given a whole song-and-dance about using digital knowledge for my music career. I could have given a fast lesson on how to integrate copywriting into design sprints and A/B testing while creating and improving digital products. I could have talked about proactively chasing your career goals and about the #entrylevelboss lifestyle.
"But I am all three of these talks, and probably several others," I said. "And I don't know if I can keep doing all three, or if I should combine them all together, or how to explain it to people. Or maybe I don't actually have a problem at all and I'm just trying to create a narrative in my head that doesn't need to even be created."
* * * * *
When my 12-minute talk was over, the hosts opened it up for 12 minutes of questions about my presentation. (Which was a little nerve-racking, as it wasn't really the kind of topic that sets you up for great audience questions.)
But I'm glad they did, because I got some interesting notes:
-- "The question is not if you can do all three. You're already doing all three. You have no problem."
-- "I bet 50% of of this room would trade places with you in a minute. And the other half wishes they were passionate about even one single thing."
-- "Your problem is not your problem. It's somebody else's problem. You don't need to care about what other people try to define you as, really."
And it's this last one that's really sticking with me this week.
It's not my problem. But I actually don't think it's anyone else's problem either. I think it's a--oh yes, that's right--it's a sign of the times. A really f*cking obvious one that I managed to totally not notice until just now.
We all know how easy it was to define yourself by your career thirty years ago. The vast majority of people got a job with one company, doing one skill (and then managing that one skill). They worked for a few decades and then they retired. A person's life story was simple. Their career identity, definable.
So yes, in 2016, mine is particularly complicated... but I'm guessing yours probably is, too. Even if you have worked at the same company until this point, most people are already gunning to do something else.
Because, statistically speaking, we are all going continue to reinvent ourselves into new careers every 3-7 years with the pace that technology is moving. I mean, how can you possibly be just one person or give just one talk when that kind of change is happening?
So, in conclusion, here's what I've learned: If we want to be all the things, let's go ahead and let ourselves be all the things. There's time. It's gonna be fine.
PS: I've re-released The Mezcla EP (2013) on Spotify and iTunes in celebration of starting to record this next batch of original music! And it's already online and out there right now and ready to rock once more. Go, add to your playlists, love, copy, share, dance.
PPS: I've gotten really into Instagram again. I'm already sharing lots of behind-the-scenes stories as I embark on recording my next album this fall. Add me here, and come hang out.