Biz Stone on the True Self

I'm not saying Biz Stone is invoking Thomas Merton, but Stone -- co-founder of Twitter -- offers some poignant reflections in his book Things a Little Bird Told Me on the search for the right career. 

He offers advice that echoes emphases of modern Catholic spirituality, in particular the call to stay faithful to one's true self. Using a metaphor (GPS coordinates) that resonates with our satellite-run lives, Stone said:

So often people follow a career path without thinking about what really inspires them. How many people graduate college, see that lawyers and doctors get paid a lot, and follow that route, only to discover that they hate it? I think about the comic Demetri Martin, who often appears on The Daily Show. He went to law school at NYU, but instead of being a lawyer, he ended up a quirky comedian who plays the ukulele and uses puppets in his act.

Adopting a career because it's lucrative, or because your parents want you to, or because it falls into your lap, can sometimes work out, but often, after you settle in, it starts to feel wrong. It's like someone else punched the GPS coordinates into your phone. You're locked onto your course, but you don't even know where you're going. When the route doesn't feel right, when your autopilot is leading you astray, then you must question your destination. Hey! Who put "law degree" in my phone? Zoom out, take a high-altitude view of what's going on in your life, and start thinking about where you really want to go. See the whole geography--the roads, the traffic, the destination. Do you like where you are? Do you like the end point? Is changing things a matter of replotting your final destination, or are you on the wrong map altogether?


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J Cosgrove
3 years 8 months ago
It is nice to do what one wants to do but for everyone who can point to himself as a success in this, there are thousands who are failures and leading unproductive lives trying to be self-fulfilling. There must be millions of musicians who would like nothing better to do than lead their life as a musician. I know of one very well, a close relative. He tried to make it in music but then had to find a real job as he says so that he could marry his college sweetheart and have a family. I know of others who are scratching out little bits of money with a gig here and a gig there while the people they play for make several times the money they do. They got to the point that they lead these nomadic lives because they have no other skills. I also know of artists who had to find something else. One ended up running a dry cleaning business and after retirement started to pursue his creative dreams. Thank God for computer graphics which has allowed artists to make good salaries though they are not doing their real love, painting. I once taught a seminar at a Jesuit University in the business school for those students in an internship program. I told them that when they graduated and got a job they would be getting freedom for the first time as their parents had supplied most of the economic resources for their education and because of this they had obligations to them. A job would open up a source of income for them and provide them economic freedom. They could find a place to live, travel some have a social life etc. But in a few years most would meet someone and get married and have children. At which time their job would become their prison. They would not have the flexibility to do much because of the necessity of feeding their family and paying the mortgage. This is something that has been with mankind forever. Just ask the Coal Miner's daughter. There are more options today but it is far from carte blanche. So Biz Stone's recommendation of remaining faithful to one's true self may be good advice for a few but the question is who knows if they are one of the chosen ones when starting out and can actually make it. Aside: I had thought Jack Dorsey was the founder of Twitter. He gave a lecture at Stanford on this and described how it came to him as he emailed all his friends about a trip to the zoo and thought that there must be a better way. But I guess it always takes more than one person to make something happen.


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