Burn Your Ships

I realized two things recently: I am hella smart and I am basically unemployable.

The last bit came first; I’ve written a book with Joel D. Canfield, and now we’re doing author bios and stuff and I’m suddenly frozen; How do I describe what I know? Who I am? What can I say that will let people feel like they know me?

I dropped out of university. The only grown-up ‘jobs’ I’ve had have been blue-collar. My formal training for my coaching has been tangential…meaning I have seriously adapted it and made it my own. The form I use now no more represents the seed it grew from than a frog resembles a tadpole.

Basically, I’ve done nothing I could add to a resume in years.

Which is kinda insane, because I am always busy, always inquisitive, always learning. But I’m not getting certificates, completing coursework, or following any kind of externally mandated trajectory.

Furthermore, I’m not the easy-to-pigeonhole “entrepreneur” type. At least, I don’t think so. I don’t run a business to run a business. I run a business because it was the most effective way to do what I want in life. Most of my skills are “soft skills.” I am insanely good at building rapport and connection with people to make it safe and maybe even a little fun to expose their bellies to me. I’m fan-freaking-tastic at intuiting motivations and thought-processes and pinpointing the disconnects between your inner world and your outer world.

Those are bankable skills, but they’re impossible to measure. I have a great deal of knowledge about history, sociology, philosophy, history and psychology, but not so much that you can’t trip me up by asking me the specifics of the Battle of Trafalgar.

I even discovered, to my thrill, that I’m moderately knowledgeable about economics (and economic trends), especially wrt globalization and web 2.0.

In fact, it’s pretty amazing how smart you can become by only being moderately well-read. I’ve hardly read any real books in the last few years; all my reading has been done online.

I’ve long said that autodidacts are the wave of the future. You don’t really need to go to university anymore, unless you need access to lab equipment, or perhaps to learn some  life skills (although, frankly, you can get those anywhere. Uni is like a padded crib, though, so good for being REALLY safe).

But I noticed how, having been unconventional thus far in my life, I have actually burnt my boats — To start now in the white-collar world would be to essentially start my life over; school, paying my dues, working my way up from the bottom.

It’s been well noted that people will work 10x as hard to avoid losing money as to gain an equal amount of money, and I find that much the same applies here: I refuse to start from the bottom of anything simply because I lack credentials. So I guess I’m staying where I’m at; being unconventional.

Not that I wouldn’t have anyway. But sometimes it’s pretty useful to have a roadblock across the “easy way.”


6 thoughts on “Burn Your Ships”

  1. As always Shanna you are pinpoint sharp and speaking to my very soul!!While I was completing my career coaching qualification I got increasingly uncomfortable about the idea of discovering a persons deepest passions and talents, and then looking around at established roles in industry trying to find a way to cram these talents into an already existing job!!  It just seems wrong to oversimplify everything a person brings to the world just to make it easier for others to ‘get them’.  I used to be the WORST for this as well!  When I worked in a recruitment sales job I could look at a resume and tell you almost instantly how much that person could earn and how easy it would be to find them a job.  But I now believe that a lot of people just aren’t designed that way.  Their talents are intangible but just (if not more) valuable to society than a more ‘traditional’ skills set.  So don’t worry – you might not be employable in a mainstream job – but you know what – I reckon it’s a good thing as I imagine you’d probably hate every minute of it!! 😉

    1. Hah! Yes, I do believe I would. I find it hard to even imagine, as, aside from a brief stint in a call centre in University, I’ve never seen the inside of an office building. (what do those people DO all day?) Thanks for the encouragement, though. We’re on the right path.

  2. I think you’ve just about written your Author Bio!  Since we’re *all* some version of unconventional non-conformists (and I’m pretty-much positive that your book is far from ‘conventional’, too) – give yourself whatever permission you need (I just couldn’t resist) to skip the third-person blah-blah-blah so *your people* will feel *you* when they read it. Love an’ Hugs – I can’t wait to see it!  K

    1. I actually already DID write my author bio, but this is some of the thought process that came out of it. It’s on WhyWeLead.com — the site’s not real purty yet, but we’re getting there.

  3. One thing I’ve realised is that being unemployable prevents me from giving up on my business and gettinga  job. This is a good thing, on those days when I just wanna give up fer cryin’ out loud. Sucky resume = might as well stick to what I know.

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