David Brooks writes in the NY Times this morning about the lure of investment banking for new graduates and the incomplete framework through which people see their employment (and therefore life) choices. It is more than just X or Y:
"There’s crass but affluent investment banking. There’s the poor but noble nonprofit world. And then there is the world of high-tech start-ups, which magically provides money and coolness simultaneously. But there was little interest in or awareness of the ministry, the military, the academy, government service or the zillion other sectors."
"In whatever field you go into, you will face greed, frustration and failure. You may find your life challenged by depression, alcoholism, infidelity, your own stupidity and self-indulgence. So how should you structure your soul to prepare for this? Simply working at Amnesty International instead of McKinsey is not necessarily going to help you with these primal character tests.
Furthermore, how do you achieve excellence? Around what ultimate purpose should your life revolve? Are you capable of heroic self-sacrifice or is life just a series of achievement hoops? These, too, are not analytic questions about what to do. They require literary distinctions and moral evaluations".
Over the past 6 months I have realised the achievement hoops I have run through for the better part of 20 years. You do this to get to that. You graduate from here to go work there. Buy this house to improve it and buy that house. Run this marathon to run another marathon. Never ending and ultimately empty. It's even transferred to the kids (get them from this school into that, make sure they do this sport then that).
At g, we have been exploring greatness (lucky it starts with a g). What does it mean, what are the requirements, what are the distinctions? For me and the team, does the workplace provide challenges that evolve us to our greater selves or is it a day-to-day slog where there is never enough time. Over the past 7 years, we have been somewhere in the middle depending on the day. I know where I want to go now. And that's where we're going.