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Job Search Series II: Take Responsibility


Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump; you may be freeing him from being a camel.”
~ G.K. Chesterton

This is not just a job-seeker’s problem. This is a problem of many men and women of our times: through a long and complex process that involves social, culture and economic structures and their many institutions, we have ended up becoming  what some have called a “society of two-year-olds”: those of us who had access to more than the basic needs, who live in relatively free and peaceful times and places and who have had access to education, information and entertainment, tend to believe we have certain birth-rights, or the entitlement to “get” things in life.

This way of thinking makes us sometimes arrogant, sometimes greedy, sometimes despots, sometimes we throw tantrums and complain because those things we have decided are our “rights” are not given to us by society, those in power or whoever is out there…

With just a few generations of wealth (not very well distributed) and thanks to the fossil fuel blip that allowed humankind to go from the ways we lived back in 1750 to the way middle class around the world lives today, we have become used to think that we “deserve” a middle-class life with the package of house, two cars, annual vacation to Hawaii, food at the pantry from all over the world at any time of the year, flat TVs, cell phones, tablets and a stable job that would last till we are 55, a time when we will “retire” and start travelling to Mexico, taking Caribbean cruises and pampering ourselves until we die at age 85.

Welcome to Reality. Open your Eyes. See the World. Take Responsibility.

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.  It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”  ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

We are not children. We don’t “deserve” anything, and anything you “take”, you are taking from someone or something else. All our acts have consequences, even if we lie, even if we try to hide them…

If you are looking for a job or trying to see your next steps in life, apart from trying to know who you really are and what do you need and want, you need to acknowledge that you are responsible for the things you do…or don’t do.

Many job seekers, tired of the roller-coaster and what seems like an endless process of applying, targeting and being rejected, start blaming “the system”, “the employers”, “the process” (of job searching) , “the government” and so on…some even blame themselves, which is a strange way of denying their own responsibility on the process and how things are in the world.

The reality is that we live in an imperfect world (the human-made world is imperfect because we, human beings, are imperfect and will probably always be). We also live in a extremely unequal and unfair world where some have no chance to even dream, while others think they have the “right” to consume, abuse and waste whatever they want.

But complaining, blaming, taking things for granted, thinking you are a victim or giving up won’t help.

What we need to do is to take responsibility of our small piece in all this big puzzle: we are responsible for our dreams and goals, the plans we make, the tools we create, the strategies we develop and apply, we are responsible for our mood-swings, our attitude and the efforts we put in what we want to accomplish.

We are also responsible for the choices we make, the consequences of our acts and the gift we leave to the world and the future generations.

So, how can we take responsibility, in this particular case, for our own career paths, whether we have the job we dreamed or the life we hope?

We need to start from ourselves. Isolated, we can’t change the world, the government, the system, the institutions, the processes o whatever is out there we don’t like, think is wrong or don’t agree with.

So start by analysing what is your portion of responsibility. Not only in your job search and career path. Think about what is your responsibility in the state of the things you don’t like…and start thinking how you can integrate what you see as wrong with your own career path.

When people don’t like what happens to them, they have six options:

  1. Figure out what’s their role within the big picture and try changing things from within. Influencing, advocating, and negotiating.
  2. Remove themselves from the situation: moving, changing roles or changing their own goals.
  3. Adjusting themselves to the situation and playing the game with the best tools they have: observing, learning, applying, and trading off.
  4. Actively creating a parallel situation, institution or system with the hope it will eventually gain momentum and the one they don’t like will disappear or become weak.
  5. Change the situation using some type of power: fighting, destroying, and disempowering institutions or people.
  6. Adopt a victim/passive role, assuming they are powerless: blaming, complaining, giving up, running away.

No single option is “the” best one. Each option has its own value, as there are times when giving up, or fighting or removing yourself from the game may be what works best.

What you cannot avoid, is the consequences each one of these options brings about. Consequences for you, consequences for the world out there, consequences for future generations…no matter what your choice is, you are always responsible.

It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.”

 ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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