I’m going to prove that I’m a little (?) strange. I’m going to recommend a TEDx talk that is well intentioned, makes some good points, is worth discussion, and is flawed. The link to the talk is here: Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career
To prevent you from seeing my argument too early, I’m including photos I took while visiting some parks and ravines in Toronto.
OK. Now that you are back, or you decided to skip the talk, here is what I’m thinking. I agree with Larry Smith that people with great careers can also be good people. And, blaming your family for not following your dream isn’t nice. My problem is near the end of his talk, the “tombstone” scenario, where he pities the person who “merely” invents Velcro.
I get that he is trying to inspire his audience to dream big. The problem is the invention of the hook and loop fastener, commonly known by the original maker’s name “Velcro” is a great invention. Hook and loop fasteners are everywhere today since they provide a secure and easy way to secure garments and other objects together. The’re also a great example of biomimicry.
So, why doesn’t Larry Smith and perhaps the average person see it this way? My guess is because of a prejudice against what is considered ordinary. What I would like to see is people understand and appreciate that common, everyday objects, events and activities and people can also have high value. Not everyone gets to be a celebrity.
Many years ago, a friend told me of a woman who had a medical condition that had kept her bed-ridden for close to 20 years. He asked me if I wanted to visit her in the hospital. I was in my early twenties, still not sure of myself, so I said, “I don’t think I could say or do anything to cheer her up.” To which my friend replied, “You don’t understand. People don’t go to see her to cheer her up, they go because she cheers them up. Even though she is quite sick, her attitude and kind heart inspires everyone she encounters.” Unfortunately, before I could find time, she passed away.
My point in telling her story is to show it as an example of a person who did the best with what she was given. We are all in situations that are not completely of our choosing, we have to do our best with what we got in front of us. This woman who I wish I met, didn’t have any kind of a career and there are no fancy words on her tombstone, but she was a great person. And, being a great person is harder than physics.