The vast majority of us can have a dream job. A job that we love. But we have to be very, very careful how we judge a job. Does everyone want to be Mark Zuckerberg? Is that the dream job? Does everyone want to be CEO of a multi-billion dollar organization? Why would everyone want to be Mark Zuckerberg. Because he’s a young billionaire? That’s not a dream job, that’s a result. That’s a bank account.
Do we all want to be rich? Maybe. Would you rather be happy? And the question is, do you have to be rich to be happy? And we know intellectually, this is nonsense. Of course you don’t. And so we have to be very careful when we describe a dream job.
How do you know that there’s not a janitor in a school who’s proud to come to school every day and create an environment in which the kids run around and enjoy themselves and it’s a great learning environment. And he takes great pride that these kids love coming to school because he helps keep the school clean. Is he living his dream job? Absolutely. Because he’s giving back, he’s doing something bigger than himself and he goes home at the end of the day fulfilled.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. And somebody asked me recently, “why did you want to be an astronaut?” And I thought about it for a second and I thought I wanted to be an astronaut because I wanted to go and do something that very few people get to do and look down at our planet from a perspective that very few people have and come back and bring back down what I saw with hopes of inspiring everybody else who didn’t get the opportunity.
As I told this story, I realized that’s exactly what I do. I never went into space, but I am an astronaut. I get to see a world, do things that most people don’t get to do and see a perspective that most people don’t get a chance to have and I get to share that perspective. And I’m learning about inspiring people to go on to do whatever it is they want to do. I am an astronaut; I just didn’t go into space to get it.
And so living your dream job has nothing to do with the specifics of the job. It has to do with the fulfillment that you get from that job. And we have to be very careful about how we judge certain jobs. To compare jobs based on what you do is no way to pursue your dreams.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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