Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Is there a purpose in life? Orientation Council for students ... and others

By Philippe Silberzahn.


Should we have a clear goal in life when we undertake studies? The logic suggests that yes, of course. This is called a professional project and the strength of such a project, that is to say the clarity of purpose that is pursued, is an important condition for admission to the grandes écoles at the time of the interview. Is it reasonable to demand that at a time when the world is only uncertainty and surprises? I think not.


Of course, we all knew those who knew perfectly well, from an early age, what they would do in life. I remember a classmate at the premiere who wanted to become a lawyer. She was going to attend trial hearings on Wednesday afternoon. She has become a lawyer.

But not everyone is that way. A friend recently confided to me that her daughter had never known what to do in life. Not that she did not do anything, but she never had a specific project and chose her studies, internships and work according to her desires without knowing where to go. She considers her life successful, but she does not see the idea of ​​having a clear goal even today.


And it is true that having a goal is universally considered indispensable. Most parents push their children to study serious to have a good job. My experience as a jury at the entrance exams of a business school brings me to meet candidates who seem prepared from a very young age at this crucial moment.


Their life is a response to the specifications of the oral admission: a collective sport, a passion, a humanitarian commitment, a favorite book, a hobby a little weird to tickle the jury, a concession to the fashion of time ( sustainable development or organic, it depends).


The first twenty years fully formatted to maximize their chances of reaching the ultimate goal: admission. Then the goal reached, the relay is immediately taken by the following goal: a job in a large company. And so very quickly we take a responsibility in one of the associations (an interest as deep as sudden for, say, wine, basketball, welfare, anything will do the trick as long as the goal is reached ).

And often it works: beautiful jobs, good wages, parents - goalkeepers of their children - are proud, and rightly so. But it works less and less. Many of these winners rush right into entrepreneurship as the only way out of this goal that they have never really wanted. Entrepreneurship as a way out has recently been theorized by entrepreneurship researchers who see it as one of the sources of the growing fluidity of our society. People now have options to escape the imposed goals.


The anguish of the goalkeeper


I am so fascinated to see so many senior executives from the best French schools, pure products of our meritocracy, having succeeded and achieved the goal, but yet putting their children in a Montessori school, torn between their wish to see them succeed as they did so, and their profound intuition that it would be better, anyway, that they escape and pursue an education without real purpose.


Intuition deep but unspeakable because the rocking is not easy. Imagine in the beautiful neighborhoods if your child is not a big school? Well we imagine it more and more because it happens more and more! The marginalized and lost sons of the twentieth century are the normality of the twenty-first century. Who among you does not know one of them today? Who does not have one or more entrepreneurs around him? This senior executive of a CAC40 company confided me recently to be strongly challenged by the fact that his three children are all entrepreneurs. The idea of ​​a career plan horrifies them.

We name them contractors, for ease, but we could call them living. Soon we will not call them anymore because they will become the norm. These are the others, those who will have remained locked in the goalwho will have to call and justify themselves: what is your problem for needing so much of a goal in life?


Fortunately it happens that candidates in my admissions juries have understood this. One day, while I asked this candidate what was her professional project, as usual with a secret hope but expecting the eternal "I always dreamed of being ..."she looked at me strangely, as if I had asked a stupid question (it was the case but I could not admit it of course) and replied: "Well, I do not know. I do not know the business world at all, and I hope to discover it with the different subjects and the various internships during my schooling. I'm sure I'll have some interesting meetings and something will emerge. I want to keep all this open for now. " It was a moment of grace. What maturity and above all what courage!


The lack of purpose is life


A life without purpose? A student without a career project? Why not ? Take random courses of his desires, discover unexpected things, learn calligraphy, for example, completely useless, meet people outside his circle and arrive at a place unimaginable at first. A few years later, connect all these useless things and invent the Macintosh with its beautiful fonts. This is the story of Steve Jobs. We can do worse, right?


This is what my friend is killing to explain to his daughter: she has done very well without ever having a clear goal; she graduated with a so-called no job; she made fun of her employabilitya concept invented by adepts of the imposed goal, living in a closed world with a six-month horizon; she went on from what she had on hand: who am I? what do I like ? (and what do I dislike, it works well too) with whom do I want (or not want) to work? how can I take advantage of the surprises that are sure to punctuate my career?


Some of you will have recognized the principles of doing, the logic of entrepreneurs; well, yes, it applies very well to the entrepreneurship of one's own life, for those who do not try to discover the place that has been assigned to them in the order of things but who are determined to build on your own.


So if you either have no idea what you want to do in life, rest assured. Not only does it not matter, but it's even a big advantage in a world of uncertainty and surprises that will in any case negate the plans you can make. One can go forward without a clear goal, most entrepreneurs do it, many people in life do it, it is time to assume it and claim it. The absence of purpose is life.


At future admission interviews, there will be sports!


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