Fair doesn't mean equal.

My boss is a Navy SEAL and he recently made the comment to me that “fair does not mean equal”. Meaning he will treat our team fairly, but it does not mean he will treat us equally. He has told me that SEAL training is less about physical aptitude and more about the mental grit to overcome continuous “bad breaks”, one after the next. I believe life is the same way.

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Life does not care what your backstory is. Life does not care where you came from, who you are currently, what you’ve done in the past, or why you have struggles. She is the ultimate ambivalent playing field. Life does not innately favor some and persecute others. She does, however, reward those who take action in their life. It’s the people who choose to live with an indomitable human spirit, help others selflessly, and take responsibility for their own circumstances; they tend to get to move forward in a positive fashion. The ‘passengers’ of life get to move forward as well, but contrary to the action takers, they get the leftovers of those who carve out and shape their path.

I have done a lot of career counseling with younger people and my biggest wish for them is to understand, as early as possible that they get to pick the life they want. My girlfriend recently reminded me that life doesn't happen to us, it happens for us. I look at people getting into the corporate life after college, or trade school, or their masters and doctorate programs, and ask them to think about the job they are about to take. Are they looking at it as a ‘job’ or as a ‘career’?

Jobs are the things we do when we aren’t deeply invested and don't really consider the tasks relevant to our expected life. These people look back on their life and say they never found their passion or their ‘career’. They, at best, do the required work to satisfy their responsibilities and then go home unfulfilled and disenchanted about the career they don't have. They generally exert the minimum effort required to earn their paycheck. They dread Monday’s, painfully endure the workweek, and get overly excited about the weekends. They essentially tolerate 5 days a week so they can enjoy 2 days. This makes my heart hurt.

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People who I classify as being on their career path, are the people who were fortunate enough to have found their passion early in life or, more likely, they are doing the same ‘job’ as the person above, but see the bigger picture. They pour themselves in relentlessly to what they are doing, despite the task. It’s really just a change in attitude. These people look at their job as an opportunity to put their best signature on their life. They realize that the work they accomplish is a reflection of who they are. They show up early, stay late, and look for opportunities to do a little extra. They see the ‘job’ they are doing not as the final state or their peak potential, they look at it as a stepping stone to the next challenge, the next position, and hopefully something closer to what they will consider a career.      

Regardless of your current field of employment, choose to look at it as a piece of your career path and not just a simple job.

We all fail. I recently heard a clip from Jim Carrey where he discusses a lesson he learned from his father. The story was about how his father had a passion for playing music, but because of a need to support his family, he set aside that passion, moved to the US, and got a ‘regular job’. And when he was fired from that job, it stung extra hard… he had failed, which we all do, but he had failed at something he wasn’t even really interested in. The lesson? We will all fail. It will sting when we do. Don’t compromise your life, because when you fail at something you weren’t even inspired do to, it will hurt more. Again, we will all fail, we minus well fail at something we love!