I have 3 daughters, the middle of whom came home from school and asked “what’s your job Dad?”

This was when she was in primary 3, around 7 years old. They were doing a project in class that involved finding out what people did for jobs. It was an interesting project; one day they went out in the bus to visit a local farmer who showed them all around his farm and explained what he did for a living. On other days some of the kids parents would come in to tell the class about their jobs.

Back to the question in hand: “What’s your job Dad?”

I think she felt a little embarrassed in class that she couldn’t immediately put her finger on what it was her Dad did for a living exactly. She said that she knew I went off to China from time to time and she thought it might have something to do with teaching and maybe something to do with golf courses and/or colleges. Eventually I think the teacher must have suggested that she ask me, just for clarification.

The trouble with this scenario is that I couldn’t really give her a straight answer. Of course I could tell her some of the things I did, like blogging, writing books, making sites for others, buying and selling old fishing rods, teaching people in China how to build and maintain golf courses, visiting auctions, tinkering with old Volvos, grooming donkeys and on and on.

These kind of answers confuse people as they expect everyone to have followed a pre determined path to a life of doing the same thing every day; working for a living at some thing they set out to get qualified to do when they were teenagers. The trouble with that model is that it completely overlooks that in 10, 20 or 50 years from your college days, you will be a different person, maybe several different people at different points along the way and instead of allowing for that, it forces a square peg to continually fit different shaped holes, leading to an unfulfilled life, depression and all sorts of other trouble. It forces people to live shackled lives…and here it is being slipped surreptitiously into the little impressionable heads of 7 years olds; in other circumstances it might be called indoctrination or even brain washing!

This is training for the hamster wheel and is fully sanctioned and ingrained in law by the governments of all western, consumerist societies. It’s like some weird futuristic movie where the many are shackled to some great machine to produce wealth for the few superior beings that are free to do as they please…sound familiar?

Qualifications are like mis-sold insurance policies, you don’t need them. The longer kids stay at school the more indoctrinated they get and even when they cash in their education chips for a good career, where’s the happiness for most of them? Where’s the freedom in these lands of the free? Have you ever met a happy Accountant or Lawyer?

For a while I worked as a freelance business adviser and got hooked up with some really clever guys who had created what can be thought of as a toolbox and a robust support and training network for people who wanted to be business advisers; helping business owners to grow and make their businesses more profitable. Now to sell the service they offered, they had to find people who ticked two very distinct boxes.

As I was looking for just what they had to offer to help me build a strong client list in the work I wanted to do with golf and tourism businesses their service was just what I needed at the time. This led to me writing a series of books about business development including The 10 Minute MBA.

  1. They had to have access to a lot of business owners and…
  2. They had to have a strong motivation to want out of their current situation and into one where they could experience some freedom and excitement…

where do think they looked?

That’s right, they tapped straight into the Chartered Accountant network in every English speaking country in the world and have already branched out into other territories.

Part of the offer was an unbeatable education program that included one and two day training camps. The first time I went along to one of these, I had to travel to the English Midlands and got to the venue about 30 minutes late.

The CEO and main trainer for the day, stopped talking when I sneaked in at the back and asked me to come up to the front so he could introduce me to the network. There was maybe 150 people in the room at round tables. I felt embarrassed, but I was soon at ease as he gave me a glowing introduction and I was invited to join a table right at the front.

At the morning coffee break I was inundated with people coming up to ask me questions about my niche and how I got into such interesting stuff. One of the points in my introduction that seems to strike a cord was that I sometimes helped people to build golf courses. Every other person in that room was from a Chartered Accountant’s practice.

Then a tall and apparently self assured guy came up and asked me what I thought when I walked into the room at first. I said, that in their jeans and open necked shirts, I wasn’t sure I was in the right room as none of them look particularly like Accountants! The reply came fast:

“That’s because we’re all trying desperately not to be Accountants!!”




Here was the clever tip at the top of the Accountant iceberg, the few who had realised in time that they could do something better, more exciting and introduce freedom to their beleaguered lives. They were in the process of breaking the link with their years of indoctrination, breaking away from their hard won and therefore tightly bonded qualifications. Only some of them will make it, but they will find the effort well worth it.

Recently during yet another clear out of my garage, I burned a whole folder of certificates and diplomas I hadn’t realised were still there, including all of the ones I got from the network mentioned above for becoming one of their accredited facilitators. I don’t need paper permission to do anything I want to do and if anyone ever asks for it, I don’t want to work with them.

If you’ve got the inclination to override what school and your career to date have put in your head, the best and only thing you can do is to just get started, just do what you want to do.

  • Qualifications = Specialisation…burn them!
  • Specialisation = a lack of understanding about most of the world. Experience, ability and willingness to have a go make paper qualifications superfluous.
  • Being a generalist is always going to be more interesting and stimulating.

Specialisation started with the Puritans, the Protestant reformers, Calvinists; party poopers to you and me. They introduced compulsory membership of Trade Guilds so that people would have to specialise in one trade and wouldn’t be recognised or paid for any other work. Furthermore they would have to buy those other goods and services because all of their time was taken up working for the man in order to continue to be recognised as a Guild member. This was the early stages of the introduction of the consumerism that blights our world today.

Big picture, broad brush and generalist are all terms despised by the detail obsessed bean counters.

Eschew your diplomas and burn your degrees. You are already qualified to do whatever you feel like!
Photo Credit: Aston University via Compfight cc

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.