Pirates and Lawn Mowers
What do you want to be when you grow up? Can you remember being asked that as a child? How did people react to your aspirations?
I have asked Dylan – who is a typical boisterous four-year-old boy – a few times now – what he wants to be when he grows up. The latest response was, per usual, esoteric and convoluted. Dylan wants to be an army tank driver who mows lawns on a pirate ship.
What would you say to that? I loved everything about Dylan’s answer and here is why…
Firstly, I loved the imagination in his response. Being creative is not just a cherry on top to cultivate in our kids when the time is right. It is an essential skill that needs to be encouraged daily.
In fact, it’s already a key competitive advantage at work. Whether we like it or not, we live in an unfair world where the privileged few in first world countries can get the opportunity to do interesting and advanced work. This involves all the imagination and creativity that can be conjured up. Mundane and repetitive jobs will be increasingly outsourced to computers, robots and people from less wealthy countries. Creativity will equal pay cheque in the future economy.
The End of Jobs
Secondly, Dylan’s answer implied a succession of different skills and hence not one job. A straightforward, upwards trajectory of a single career is a rare thing nowadays, and will become even less common in the future. I was relieved to know that not having one true calling is actually a thing. Check out Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk on ‘multipotentialites’ to hear more about this.
It is becoming less common to even apply for a ‘job’ as such. A working life is likely to consist of different opportunities to earn income via freelancing, being an employee, or owning a business. It could involve stints at home or travelling or re-education and picking up casual work where it arises. There is likely to be a fading out of the notion of retirement, so our children will have to think about how they will earn a living over the space of 50 years or more.
The Start of Jobs
But being a lawn mower man and army tanker driver on a pirate ship is not even a JOB, you say. It simply does not exist. And you are probably right.
However, there are some reputable sources that state that at least 65% of the jobs and work opportunities available ten to twenty years in the future do not exist at all today. Think of the impact that virtual reality and artificial intelligence will have on our lives in the not too distant future.
After all, the first employees of Facebook, ten years ago, certainly did not grow up with the desire to work for that company. And who would have thought even five years back that regular people would have the income opportunities now available thanks to Uber (driving people around) and AirBnB (renting out rooms in your house)? The inventor of the selfie-stick probably didn’t have that as part of his life plan when he was four years old, but he currently must be pretty happy with his ability to monetise a growing trend in a timely manner.
Show Me the Money
Also, it may be argued that even if there was such a job, there does not seem to be a way to actually make money from it. How would you actually generate a revenue stream from lawn mowing on a pirate ship?
Actually, people can make income from any opportunity, especially if they are passionate and apply a great work ethic to it. A recent newspaper story discussed a 24-year-old Pokémon enthusiast who has been hired by the gaming company behind Pokémon Go to be a Pokémon Go coach. His first task is to find and capture all the Pokémon in New Zealand. Now think about this for a second – this guy is being paid to hunt for game characters. If you can make money doing that, then very little seems impossible in the way of income opportunities.
I really loved how passionate Dylan was about his future occupation(s). There were no limits, no holding back, he had a vision, he was dreaming big.
As parents we need to keep our children safe, but try not to limit them. We need to move out of the way. Let them think anything is possible. Let them fail. Let them pick themselves back up and try something new. This is one of our core conflicts as parents and I know it is hard! But at the very least, never ever, ever, ever tell them that what they want to do is impossible.
After all, someone’s child is now earning good money to chase after imaginary monsters.