Monday, November 2, 2009

Foolish Assumptions

'Same thing goes with school, you need to jump trough the hoops and play the games in order to get your degree. In order to do the things you truly want to do you need those things to progress in "the system." It's just the way the world works.' - a comment from a previous post.

In order to progress in "the system" you must jump through hoops. And "...its just the way the world works". These are very true statements and I would be a fool to disagree. However, the statement is not entirely factual because there are a few assumptions that have been made.

The first assumption:

  • "One person can know what another person truly wants."
No other person can know what drives us or who we are one millionth as much as we do. And many people don't even know what it is that they themselves want in the first place. Until we know what we really want, we can't even tell if we'll succeed in this current system or not. The first step is to find out what you actually want out of life. For more information on this please read my previous post, "What drives you?".

A story:
A few years ago I worked at a high-end jewelry store in the sales department. For the most part it was pretty boring, but I remember a story my coworker told me.

Down the street from us there was a high-end men's clothing store. The average suit there cost probably around a thousand dollars or more. One day, a man walks in wearing very dirty clothing and begins to look around. Not the kind of guy you'd find in a luxury clothing store. As the other sales people ignored him, knowing he was probably just a bum, one decided to give it a go. End result: the man purchased over five thousand dollars in suits and accessories from this salesperson.

While the other salespeople saw a bum with no money and dirt on his face, the one who made the sale that day saw nothing, a blank slate. Turns out that the guy had just been doing yard work that morning.

It's my most memorable example proving it's rare that we know somebody better than themselves. Remember not to assume you know what motivates people or what they want out of life. It's better to ask.

The second assumption:

  • The current "system" is the best and only way to achieve what I've determined I truly want.
The old addage goes: "All roads lead to Rome." This isn't to say that all paths lead to success, but merely to show that just like there are multiple roads to Rome, there are multiple paths to self-fulfillment. There are countless people who have found their personal path to happiness, success, and even financial wealth via a different road.

As with all things the first step in changing something for the better is admitting that there is something wrong with it. We know the status quo is not sufficient. The price for admission is not free, the ride is not utterly mind-blowing, and the end result is that you leave without the giant stuffed teddybear. The carnival of college doesn't just need some new d├ęcor, it needs a massive overhaul! This assumption of the "one size fits all" has some damaging effects, and they are visible everywhere!

Above all else this assumption has caused many "alternative thinkers" to live a life of quiet desperation*. It has caused them to become addicted, not to drugs or alcohol (though still likely), but to mediocrity. This leads to...

The third assumption (inferred):

  • Mediocrity is okay.
Wrong. Dead wrong.

A summary of points:

  • If you want to succeed in the current system, then go for it. Nobody is stopping you.
  • Never assume you know what anybody wants; its probably not the same thing as you.
  • If you're in sales, don't judge. Ben Franklin might just be your new prospects best friend.
  • All roads may not lead to Rome, but you can bet there are at least two of them.
  • Why settle for anything less than the best. If college were free, fun, and there was a definite, big prize when you finished wouldn't that be great?
  • I don't live in the real world. The real world is boring.
  • If mediocrity comes a knocking, I hope you have your walls boarded up, a 12 guage shotgun, and a chainsaw because this mother fucker is hungry.


* "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" -
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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