A friend shared an article from the New York Times Magazine with me today called “The Case for Working with Your Hands”, by Matthew B. Crawford. Turns out, this is an engaging excerpt from his soon-to-be-released book titled, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work. In this excerpt, Mr. Crawford explores the societal push toward becoming a “knowledge” economy whereby the young are pressured into pursuing educations and career paths that may, in reality, deny their natural tendencies and talents only to become corporate cubical dwellers. This is a very thought provoking article and one that should make anyone open to career exploration or anyone trying to “find themselves” jump up and rub their eyes.
Consider those talents and passions that you have nurtured all your life as a hobby. Or consider developing those skills that have always intrigued you. My guess is that the skills that you have nurtured or honed in your personal time are not all about analyzing financial statements, getting the most from your project team or designing corporate sales collateral, to name but a few. The trades, as we are reminded here, are a great place for problem-solving, planning and creativity, and, ultimately, building a reputation for special skills and knowledge. I so appreciate that Mr. Crawford, who earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, found such satisfaction, and a living, in motorcycle repair.
At a time in our lives (mid or later life) when we are re-evaluating how we make a living, and considering what makes us happy as well as individual options, it seems more than pertinent to think outside the corporate box, as Mr. Crawford suggests here:
Ultimately it is enlightened self-interest, then, not a harangue about humility or public-spiritedness, that will compel us to take a fresh look at the trades. The good life comes in a variety of forms. This variety has become difficult to see; our field of aspiration has narrowed into certain channels. But the current perplexity in the economy seems to be softening our gaze. Our peripheral vision is perhaps recovering, allowing us to consider the full range of lives worth choosing. For anyone who feels ill suited by disposition to spend his days sitting in an office, the question of what a good job looks like is now wide open.
His book will be available on Amazon.com soon. Should be a good read based on the excerpt.