The Magic Career Box
By Jay Leonardi
Posted on March 16th, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Imagine for a moment that a friend of yours invented a “Magic Career Box.” She told you that all you needed to do was describe what you wanted and your career would appear before you. She hands you a piece of paper and says, “Whatever you can describe, you can have.”
You take the paper and write, “I want to make a million dollars a year to sit around and do nothing!”
You drop the paper in the Magic Career Box and… nothing happens.
She says, “It has to be a job that actually exists.”
“Oh,” you respond. “Dang.”
She says, “Let me help. This isn’t really that hard.”
“Okay,” you say, “But I want an amazing career that makes lots of money.”
“Lots of money,” she says, “Check. How much is that anyway?”
“Millions and millions per year!”
She gives you a look that says, “Really?”
“Too much? How about $70,000 per year?”
“Better,” she says.
She writes $70,000 per year on a piece of paper and drops it into the Magic Career Box.
“Now, where would you like to work? Not the city or state, but the actual job location. Think in terms of bank, clinic, factory, hospital, kitchen, laboratory, office, university or small business.”
“That’s too hard. I don’t have a clue.”
“No pressure,” she says, “Just list the ones that you think are a possibility. You can have as many as you want for now.”
“I don’t know. Maybe National Parks, cruise ships, Hollywood, and ski lodges. They all sound good. I guess I could add small business and university.”
“Excellent,” she says. She writes each job location on a slip of paper and drops them all into the Magic Career Box.
“Is that it?” You ask. “Is my career ready?”
“Patience, patience. The box needs time to work. Let’s add a few more things to help it speed up the process.”
“Like what do you actually want to do? How do you see yourself spending each day for the next forty years? Cooking, analyzing, improving, installing, teaching, what?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t want a regular job sitting behind a desk. I want something fun and exciting where I can get outside in the sunshine and make people happy. I know I’m making this impossible.”
“With the Magic Career Box, everything is possible,” she says, as she starts writing on slips of paper.
“If you say so.”
“I do. Okay, so you see yourself outside having fun. Who are you working with, children?”
“Like little kids? No, I couldn’t handle that. Maybe older kids or young adults. Maybe even older than that. You know, people old enough that they have real money to spend.”
“Fair enough,” she says, writing. “Young adults and older, with money to spend.” The slips go in the box.
“I like the part about money to spend,” you say. “The more the better.”
She smiles. “Of course. But what do you want to do for these people? What do you want to improve about their life or situation? Are you improving their health, their knowledge, their behaviors, their skills, their enjoyment, what?”
“I thought this was about improving my life and career.”
“It is about you, but solving a problem for other people or filling a need they have is often the basis of a career. So, what do you want to do for these people with money to spend?”
“I’ve always been athletic, so maybe that’s something I could share. Help people be better at sports?” You frown. “But that won’t work. Middle aged people with money probably don’t want to learn rugby. I don’t know, this is impossible.”
“It’s okay,” she says, “Just stay with it. You’re already making progress. I hear you saying sports and skills. Maybe teaching or coaching someone, or improving knowledge about a sport?”
“It sounds like coaching at a big university. Those jobs are impossible to get.”
“That’s true, but let’s keep writing.” More slips go into the Magic Career Box.
“What else?” You ask. “Can’t it just give me an answer?”
“Not quite yet. We have one more question to answer. What about education? You mentioned universities earlier.”
“No way. That’s not happening. I made it through high school and I’m done sitting in a classroom.”
“That’s fine, but the box needed to know.” She writes, “no additional education” on a slip of paper and drops it in the box.
“What’s next,” you ask.
“Nothing,” she says, “The Magic Career Box has done its work, and now your career will appear before your eyes.”
She picks up the box, turns it upside down, and dumps the slips of paper on the table.
“There it is,” she says. “Your career.”
She begins sorting the slips of paper, arranging them in categories.
“Let’s see what we have,” she says. “Income: $70,000 per year. Location: National Parks, cruise ships, Hollywood, ski lodge, small business or university. Activity: no desk job; something fun and exciting; something outside where you can make people happy. You’ll work with young adults or older with real money to spend. Preferred activity: something athletic that you could share with others. Maybe help people be better at sports, but not coaching at a university. Education: high school only with no additional formal schooling. Do I have it right?”
“Sounds good so far, but what does it all mean?”
She straightens all the slips of paper on the table. “Tell me what you see.”
You look at the slips of paper. You pick up “cruise ship” and “Hollywood” and push them aside. You crumble “university” into a tiny ball and toss it over your shoulder. You look hard at the Magic Career Box and then at the slips. Suddenly, a moment of magic begins.
You begin arranging the slips of paper: $70,000 moves beside small business. National Parks and Ski Lodges go below them. You pull in adults with money, fun, exciting, and make people happy. You drop athletic on top of the pile then add better at sports.
“It’s all there,” you say. “The box really is magic. I can see my career.”
“Go on,” she says, “describe it.”
“I see myself creating a small business built around cross-country skiing. I will outfit and train adults for adventure tours skiing the national parks. I’ll be a teacher and a guide and a business person. This is exactly the career I’ve always wanted!”
You turn to your friend. “Thank you so much!”
“Don’t thank me,” she says, “It’s all about the power of the Magic Career Box.”
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