I know you are, but what am I?

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“What are you really good at?”

It’s one of those questions that from the onset can appear rather cliche but is actually rather cumbersome to answer. Well, it’s cumbersome for me to answer.

I have never been able to answer that question neatly. No thematically-sound ribbon and bow to cap off the package like ‘cricket’, ‘excel formulas’ or ‘wet t-shirt contests’. While others seem to build a consistent narrative around their interests, mine often feels like randomly torn bits of paper strewn haphazardly on the floor. ‘Naming kaiju species’ may score you geek points with an overgrown 90s latch key kid but most people would probably give you nervous smiles while ushering their kids quietly out the back door. And ‘lazing around and binge-watching TV shows’ is not really a skill, no matter how good you think you are at it (I’m really good). I was told recently that I am good at explaining concepts to people in a relatable way. But that’s still a few words too many compared to ‘cooking vegan meals’.

There appears to be no supporting infrastructures for the things I am interested enough to develop. I love writing, but I did not develop an interest in it because I used to read a lot. In fact, I only picked up reading nearly a decade after I started writing for publications. Yes, the horror. I love football, but not quite enough to head to a field and kick a ball myself. I played music for nearly 20 years, but had very little interest in hitting music stores unless I absolutely needed to.

Perhaps it has to do with just how fundamentally non-obsessive I am. I certainly retain an interest in many peculiar things but nothing quite enough to shape my existence. They are but stringy moments of unadulterated passion that never amounted to a season. Ironically, when I was a raging discontented teenager, I used to aspire towards being a balanced adult.

I may have taken that aspiration a little too seriously …

 

 

 

 

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Don’t fight it, feel it …

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“We always employed people based on their personalities rather than their experience” – Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records

I’ve given fiction a bit of a rest these days. Not sure why, but I see interesting fiction books these days a little like stale coffee, a semblance of something I could’ve loved but have absolutely no interest to partake.

I’ve been pouring myself into memoirs, from the awful to the sublime, notable to the inane. I am currently 145 pages into the tell-all memoir of Alan McGee, the man who discovered Oasis and founded Creation Records. It’s an easy read, interesting only because of the context of the subject and what it means to me as a indie music fan growing up in the 90s.

But then on page 121 of my copy, in the midst of tales of drug hazes, tour debauchery and Kevin Shield’s ridiculous perfectionism, McGee weighs in on a bit of HR advice. That had me removing my snug-tee indie boy hat for a moment and putting on my HR one.

The concept is not new. Progressive companies have been discussing for years now about the relevancy of a curriculum vitae and how it can limit the potential of both employees in securing jobs they are truly passionate about; and employers in hiring a talent that is just waiting to be discovered.

The concept has always been appealing to me, but why? My mind shifts to the academic answers; because it gives a subtle fist towards outdated bureaucratic practices and of course, the ‘Can’t train an old dog new tricks’ rhetoric. There has to be fundamentally more than that. There is.

The main, I guess fallacy of ‘experience’ is that it immediately assumes that we willingly embody every bit of experience we’ve gathered. That is true to an extent but it very often negates the ‘how do we feel’ part.  A career path is not something you can scribble on a paper at 22 and assume it would define your work life for the next 38 years. Very often we have to experience some ‘career’ before we even know what we really want. Some people are lucky and find that at 22, others not so and find them at the smokey end of 39. We extend this concept to cars and to an extent, life partners but we ignore it when it comes to work. We shouldn’t.

‘Personality’ focuses on the ‘now’. On what is in front of you. It’s exciting, energetic and potentially revolutionary. It’s not what I had, it’s what I want. You can buy yourself a dictionary and be forever comforted by the notion that you have at least one grammatically reliable book on your shelf or you can take a punt on a saucy, possibly awful memoir and experience a left turn into the psyche of the unknown.

We must take that chance … all of us