The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from YouWong sets this up with a wonderful frame.
Let's say that the person you love the most has just been shot. He or she is lying in the street, bleeding and screaming. A guy rushes up and says, "Step aside." He looks over your loved one's bullet wound and pulls out a pocket knife -- he's going to operate right there in the street.To make it perfectly clear, Wong elaborates.
You ask, "Are you a doctor?"
The guy says, "No."
You say, "But you know what you're doing, right? You're an old Army medic, or ..."
At this point the guy becomes annoyed. He tells you that he is a nice guy, he is honest, he is always on time. He tells you that he is a great son to his mother and has a rich life full of fulfilling hobbies, and he boasts that he never uses foul language.
Confused, you say, "How does any of that fucking matter when my [wife/husband/best friend/parent] is lying here bleeding! I need somebody who knows how to operate on bullet wounds! Can you do that or not?!?"
Now the man becomes agitated -- why are you being shallow and selfish? Do you not care about any of his other good qualities? Didn't you just hear him say that he always remembers his girlfriend's birthday? In light of all of the good things he does, does it really matter if he knows how to perform surgery?
In that panicked moment, you will take your bloody hands and shake him by the shoulders, screaming, "Yes, I'm saying that none of that other shit matters, because in this specific situation, I just need somebody who can stop the bleeding, you crazy fucking asshole."
So here is my terrible truth about the adult world: You are in that very situation every single day. Only you are the confused guy with the pocket knife. All of society is the bleeding gunshot victim.
If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it's because society is full of people who need things. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships. You arrived at the scene of that emergency, holding your pocket knife, by virtue of your birth -- the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people's needs.
Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving, and polite you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, you will be left out in the cold.
Does that seem mean, or crass, or materialistic? What about love and kindness -- don't those things matter? Of course. As long as they result in you doing things for people that they can't get elsewhere.
"You are not your job."Wong is no holds barred.
But, well, actually, you totally are. Granted, your "job" and your means of employment might not be the same thing, but in both cases you are nothing more than the sum total of your useful skills. For instance, being a good mother is a job that requires a skill. It's something a person can do that is useful to other members of society. But make no mistake: Your "job" -- the useful thing you do for other people -- is all you are.
Because that's the step that gets skipped -- it's always "How can I get a job?" and not "How can I become the type of person employers want?" It's "How can I get pretty girls to like me?" instead of "How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?" See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality.I think any executive can relate to this, particularly to the Alec Baldwin video clip. The experience of your senior executive or headquarters or your investors coming to you and saying "We don't care what you are doing but you need to achieve this." But, but, but . . . Extenuating circumstances and bad turns in the market and the key player was struck down and, and, and. And then you realize. You have to give your all. You have to give it to others. And your all has to be more than it is. Internalizing those truths is galling but there it is.
Wong goes beyond harsh truths. His advice kind of gets lost but it is the hinge of the article. Forget the traditionally anemic New Year's resolutions.
But the key is, I don't want you to focus on something great that you're going to make happen to you ("I'm going to find a girlfriend, I'm going to make lots of money ..."). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.I would elaborate it around my preferred model. Knowledge, Experience, Skills, Values, and Behaviors. In terms of what will make me more valuable to others - What single domain of knowledge will I add this year? What important experience will I add? What skill will I develop? What value will I live more completely? What behavior will I cultivate?