What do you want to be when you finish school? What do you want to be when you grow up? Such a typical question. Does anyone ever get it right? Probably not, so why do we bother asking if no-one seems to be getting it right in the end. Over on Goose Island, we’ve been asking a slightly different question to the students but loosening them up first with the What do you want to be? Once they’re all buttered up we sting them with How do you want to be?
‘Hey wait a minute, that’s not the normal question, what’s this how do I want to be bullshit?’ Yeah well, much like the supposed John Lennon quote of wanting to be Happy when he grows up, we’re asking these students to consider responses such as Honest, Responsible, Trustworthy, Hardworking, Loyal etc.
Woah woah, that sounds like some fairy fucking bullshit Fraser. How’s Honesty going to pay the bills? Hardworking at what? HEY BACK OFF ALRIGHT. We’re not done yet.
The How do you want to be questions stings them at first, we get a few responses. Then, I jump in and play the game of ‘I’ve been all of these things’:
- Pizza store worker
- Kayak salesman
- Outdoor instructor at numerous schools
- Boarding House assistant
- Polling Booth manager at the election
- Airbnb Proprietor
- Mechanical Engineering graduate
- Ski Patroller
- Pool lifeguard
- Content creator
- Work experience kid at a law firm
And so if I’ve been all of these things, what am I? A combination of those? Just the most recent one? Or am I just Fraser, a guy who likes to work hard at whatever he does?
You could form many different stereotypes about who I was at the time when I worked those individual jobs. I even form those own stereotypes about myself in my own damn head. Slowly though, this monkey is getting smarter and realising it doesn’t actually matter what job you do or how you participate in the economy. You can be just as unhappy in a good job as you are in a supposedly shit job. I could keep doing jobs ad infinitum and be no closer to Nirvana. Much like in WarGames with Matthew Broderick where the computer finally realises there is no real way to win at war, there sometimes feels like there is no way to truly win at successful employment, there are always slight hitches in the final product. So if what I want to do or be is not important, what is?
How I want to be! And what’s even better, you can somewhat control your answer to this as much as you want! You control your own damn life when you start thinking about how loyal, or hardworking you want to be. When the kids run around the pool at Quorn I get out of my chair and yell at them not because it’s my job but because I want to be a responsible member of my community and make sure they don’t fucking hurt themselves. When I get tired of running or training to get fit to do better at races I don’t think ‘yeah but I want to be a winner at XXX and get kudos online’ instead I’m thinking ‘quit bitching and start working hard, that’s what you want people to notice and sponge off, your ability to work hard’. When I’m sad or feeling dejected at home all alone it’s hard to accept that. I’m ticking the What do I want to be box, so why am I sad??? More often than not, it’s because of an absence of one of the values I set my life to. Adventure, fitness, curiosity, respect, hardworking. Sometimes I work out what I can do about it, sometimes I can’t, but that’s life sometimes and each time I can’t work it out is just an opportunity to learn how to deal with it better for next time.
Rightio, hopefully you see what I’m saying now. You can control the How do I want to be question a lot more than the What do I want to be question. That’s great, fan-fairy-fucking-tastic. But how will my responses to the How do I want to be question get me anywhere?
Attitudes/Values > Behaviours > Outcomes
Bing badda boom. Your responses, your values in life, or your attitude towards something will drive your behaviours which drives your outcomes. Think of it like your life goes where your focus or attention is. Or how an iPhone listens to everything you say. You might mention you need a new pair of jocks for Christmas and suddenly, you keep seeing ads for jocks on your socials. Next minute, you’re walking through Kmart, get a notification on your socials, see the ads again for jocks, and bam, you’ve just purchased 3 pairs of Bonds for $20. The same thing is happening in your life if you let it.
Going to back my earlier examples of What I’ve been, the times where I have been most focused on my attitude/values at work are the times where my behaviours have led to the best outcomes. Unfortunately for my employers I’ve experimented the opposite way to just get through the day. Going to work with a shit attitude still gets the job done though so why should I bother to work on How do I want to be and go in with a good attitude? Because at the end of the day, you can’t wash or drink away a shit attitude. It stays on you, gets under your fingernails and leaves a smell like raw onions do on your hands. Again, take my word, or anyone above the age of say 25 to know (respect your elders after all)… so I tell the students.
Another consideration to make in planning your approach to life is if it doesn’t matter what I want to be, how do I work out what’s worth doing and what’s not?? I know I can run 115km so why bother to run anything less? I know I can achieve pretty much anything of What I want to do if I believe in myself so the story goes. So again, why bother? If I have a stable home life, enough money, why not just stay at home and focus on being happy and honest in my own home. Tricky one. After a while of doing that, you’ll probably get bored and stale. Fresh bread does not stay fresh for long in my experience. So you need to change every once a while, get something new to challenge you and keep you and your values on your toes.
But how? You need to find the thing that motivates you right? Something that aligns to your values that might help drive you out of bed. If you don’t know your values well maybe look up to your hero’s and work out what their values probably are. If you don’t have hero’s well bloody hell, now you’re just making things tough and you’ll need more help than I can offer here. When I’m working out whether I want to accept work or not or choose my next race I’ll think more about where it sits on the spectrum of my values of adventure, fitness, curiosity, respect, than the money or prestige of the race.
Hey Fraser I’m kind of getting a vibe that it’s more important to believe in yourself for your own self-worth as opposed to attaching it to material possessions and jobs, is this true? Yes precisely Timmy! The monkeys that fell out of the trees and became our ancestors only got anywhere in life because they all believed in themselves and the idea that if they worked together, shared the resources and trusted each other, they’d make it to the next day. They didn’t evolve because they were thinking about the newest Benz they wanted to buy, they just wanted to get the damn food and make babies! That stuff’s all a lot easier if you’re the charming, happy, honest, hardworking ape. Extrapolate that theory of believing in an imagined set of values and order forward a few thousand years and it becomes clear as to why religions and pseudo-religions (sporting teams, patriotic-ness, music obsessions) are so strong and guiding in our lives because we all believe in the imagined order they create. So, create your own little personal religion I say, you’re the God, you create your values you want to live by and How you want to live. Don’t get distracted by the material things in life. They mean nothing at the end of the day and will end up owning you.
My final suggestion young padawan/Year 10 student is to paint the mental picture of How you want to look/act/live in your mind’s eye or something to that effect. Some people learn by reading, some by listening, some by doing and some by visualising s whatever it is that allows you to create that mental image of How you want to live, well go and just do it. If you’re not progressing to that mind’s eye view of How you want to be are you really living at all or are you just wasting everyone’s fucking time? Sure, sure there’s time to rest and chill, take a step back before you fire up again and get back to trying to make that mind’s eye picture of How you want to live a reality. But, let life pass you by too long, let others control your attitudes and values and fair to say if you were my brother or sister in the ol’ monkey-hood you’d be getting none of my bananas…
I can see clearly now the rain has gone Mr.Fraser but why are you bothering to tell me about it (is the unspoken question in every Year 10’s head). Because you damn fool, I live in the same world you do and if I go to the Doctors or the shops, or contract you as a builder in twenty years and you’re kicking around thinking life’s all about what you want to be instead of how you want to be then I’ll be the one suffering from it at the end of the line. That’s why it’s important to me and that’s why I put myself through the at times frustrating experience of working in outdoor ed.
Ah I see Fraser, thanks for your time. No worries good sir or Madam, thanks for reading my rant about what I think matters in life.
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