Recently, I was invited to a creative morning session run by Jonathan Ford, a cofounder of Pearlfisher (global design agency). He shared some very interesting stories of his life experience. During the Q&A, I asked him a question on career transformation. “What are the hardest decisions you made in your career? What are the things that helped you through that?”. He paused for a few seconds then said, ‘the difficult decision comes from a clear head’. People who work in extreme difficult environments, like soldiers and doctors, are always making hard decisions. Having a clear head is a key element of knowing and getting what you need to do.
I suppose, in this new age, more and more people are facing more and more choices in life, comparing to their parents, the generation that have often worked in one company for their entire life. The knowledge economy and digital technology have massively empowered individuals to access more information with more opportunities and more dynamic ways of living. Therefore one finds that one’s life becomes less linear and less predicable than generations before. Of course, the historical turbulence such as wars and revolutions changed many people’s lives dramatically in the 20th century and hardly anyone could have predicted their lives then. In many parts of the world, the impact of such events are still palpable today. However, the power structures of culture and society have changed in one way or another., This, in a way, democratises the powers, eg, from governments and militaries to big R&D organisations (NASA) as well as many smaller organisations and individuals. Further, it is more and more common that start-ups lead the innovation at the frontier while big R&D departments find hard to keep up with the pace of disruption. Individuals are accessing knowledge and skills easily via multiple platforms and their talents are highly valued as a core competitive force in terms of human capital. It isn’t the blocks of impossibility that is used to be, when there was only one or few ways of living a life and having a job. It is full of possibilities with the ability of knowing where the information is and making choices between routes of opportunities. The sense of smart navigation and the strength of making the right choices are becoming key components of knowledge economy, human capital and everyday life, in the 21th century. The timetable of your life is yours and not controlled by institutions anymore.
All these remind me of a dilemma presented in the film of the Shawshank Redemption. The prisoner finally have a chance of living a free life but he realised that the freedom of choices is even harder to cope with but rather missed his linear life in prison of following orders. Maybe we are all facing this dilemma in someway. But tell you what, I am really enjoying it!