"Goals are for losers" - Career advice from Scott Adams
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  ibmconnect social-business
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By his own admission he can't draw. As a writer he's hardly Hemingway. He's never the funniest guy in the room, even at his own parties. And behind him lies the wreckage of 36 failed business ventures.
Yet his comics are a daily fixture in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams capped off today's opening general session to riotous applause - and a provocative message.
Ninety minutes after Rudy Karsan urged attendees to make their passion their life's work, Adams offered a punchy counterpoint to that very idea.
"I'm going to give you my template to manage your career, then you can compare it to all the other crap you've seen and make up your mind who's right."
He also advised attendees not to take career advice from a cartoonist.
Goals made sense in a simpler time, Adams said. It was one thing for a farmer to want to plow 40 more acres from one year to the next. But think back to the last time you signed up for a mobile phone. Not so simple. "There's more complexity in your pocket than in that farmer's entire operation."
A focus on goals limits both your perspective and your ability to act, said Adams. "It's like riding on a horse with a bow and arrow, trying to shoot at a moving target in a forest in the fog - and you only have one arrow. The odds aren't good."
Goals are also dangerous because reaching them depends on your willpower, said Adams. Willpower is finite. Instead, he said we should focus on building and then acting within a system of knowledge that increases our chances of success over time.
For example: it takes willpower to resist the chocolate if you're trying to lose 10 pounds, and you won't always succeed. But learning about nutrition will help you make better decisions about what to eat over the long term. The more you learn, said Adams, the better you'll eat, the better habits you'll form and the more energy you'll have.
Adams also took aim at the idea of passion. Successful entrepreneurs almost to a fault draw a direct correlation between passion and success. But to Adams, that's the only thing they really can say without getting into trouble. Yes, Richard Branson is passionate about his life and work. Ditto for singing any winner of American Idol.
But the hard truth is that the world is littered with people equally passionate about their ideas and their talent. Equally passionate, and equally anonymous.Instead, "you want to back the grinders,"
But what about luck? Getting lucky is like being struck by lightning, Adams said. Yes, it's possible, but highly unlikely. You could increase your odds of being struck by standing on high ground, holding a lightning rod, connecting a bunch of them together and holding onto the biggest one.
But you'd be better off adopting a more positive attitude. A positive attitude widens your field of perception, said Adams. "These people notice more and find more opportunities because they're not waiting to be struck by lightning."
Is he right? That's for you to decide. At least it worked for him.