I had planned to write about something else today but then I stumbled upon Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette’s retirement letter. If you haven’t read it, it’s a must read…specially for anyone wondering if there might be something more to life than slaving away for the man.
I’ve been confronted, and dare I say a tad bit persecuted, for writing so openly about my decision to leave a traditional job in pursuit of my passions. I’ve been privately shamed for publicly sharing my journey. A journey that released me from social expectations…public norms…and being under someone’s thumb. A journey that untethered me and allowed me to find my voice. A voice that spoke of possibilities too scary for some to consider. Of possibilities too liberating to be endorsed.
I’ve been cautioned to be careful with my words for fear they might entice someone to quit their job in search of personal wealth instead of corporate wealth. Cautioned that my personal wealth came because of my corporate wealth. Um, that corporate wealth came at a cost…a very high cost. It was a trade off.
My tale, not unlike that of Google CFO’s, is one of constant trade offs. For years I made the decision to do what many do: Go to work. Do what was expected. Make my bosses look good. Grow the bottom-line. Nurture and coach people into doing the same.
Likewise, for years I made the decision to give up what many do: Sacrifice time with friends and family. Do what was expected, not necessarily what I wanted to do. Make my bosses look good regardless of how it made me feel. Grow sedentary. Make drones of the people around me. I was very good at my job…and very good at the trade offs.
I think the notion of working until your 55, if you’re lucky, or 65 or 70, doing something that you don’t love…is tragic. I don’t care what you do. It may be the most boring job in the world but if you love it…I mean really get enjoyment out of it…than that’s fucking fantastic. If you do it because someone else expects you to…or for the money…or the title…or prestige…well, then I feel really really bad for you.
Because no matter how much you try to tell yourself it’s worth it. That the trade offs are worth it. No matter how much you psych yourself up or lie to yourself, when it’s dark…and quiet…and you’re left with just your own thoughts…then, you’ll feel how miserable you are. Then you’ll have to decide if the trade offs are/were worth it. Then you’ll have to decide if you have the nuts to follow your dreams…to listen to what your heart has been telling you do to do. Then you’ll have to decide if you can finally choose to find your passion.
So to those that find my words antagonistic, I have to ask…do you feel the same about Patrick Pichette’s words? If so, why? Why not support him in his bravery? Applaud him for listening to his heart?
If you don’t have the same reaction to Patrick’s letter that you have to my blog, ask yourself why? That answer will tell you more about yourself than you probably want to know.