At a school reunion the other day, it was rather interesting to see the different directions that the lives of some extremely intelligent people had taken. We were all King’s Scholars, the best of our year, able to cope with school without really putting in much effort. The ultimate achievement at the time, for some of us at least, was to get the highest grades without doing any work at all. The few people who did work hard, like Alvin (not his real name, but one that has stuck), were usually mocked, albeit in a jovial and friendly way.
Our year was always split into two groups, the cool half and the geeky half, with a few people managing to float between the two. The same is true of the group now, but the reason for the division has changed. Half have tried their hand at a number of various things, meandering through various academic courses, temporary jobs, and business ideas. They are still trying to find themselves. The other half have chosen a career, worked hard at it, and steadily made their way up the ladder. They are happy with the steady path they have chosen, and the progression which they have achieved.
The moral here would seem to be that if you are smart, having a career is the easiest way to success, wealth and ultimately happiness. It certainly has been for Alvin. But in reality the lesson is a little deeper. The difference is not one of entrepreneurship vs. employment, but rather it is the 21st century, technologically driven, socially connected version of the difference between the proverbial jack of all trades, and the master of one.
As entrepreneurs, we are learning a skillset that is broad – much more so than learning a specific vocation, or an instrument say. The reality is that it will take many more years to become a master at spotting opportunities, hiring the best people, keeping up with cutting-edge trends and all the various other skills that a successful entrepreneur needs. Our focus should be on acquiring these extended skills, and not on comparing our progress with others, because one day, just as the people in careers start to grow tired of their repetitive and predetermined employment, we will look up and find ourself the master of all trades – exactly where we always wanted to be.
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