A couple years ago, I attended a talk with Sun co-founder and tech investor, Vinod Khosla, for a University of Utah MBA class. The first thing Khosla told the packed audience was “Most of you will do nothing remarkable with your lives because you’re doing what’s expected of you”. He further elaborated that coloring in the lines, doing what you’re told, and avoiding risks wasn’t doing the world or the individuals any favors. The MBA class seemed to suffer a bit of an existential crisis, as they were implicitly following others’ expectations by enrolling in program in the first place. Hopefully some of them realized that jumping through other peoples’ hoops is cool if you want to be a cog, but the real fun is happening elsewhere without hoops.
Every day, I think about what he said. The world needs people to step out of their comfort zone and start listening to themselves. The rapid creative destruction of most sectors of our economy (recession, software eating the world, automation, etc) means that nobody has the luxury of job security or complacency. The real security is in creating your own path. It’s tough, and that’s why most people don’t even try in the first place. But if you want to get ahead in the new economy, stop jumping through other peoples’ hoops.