I’m coming to understand that the margin of error is not so thin, is not the same thirty centimetre distance that it was in high school. In school, it was simple. You did what was put in front of you, then you got a pat on the back and could move on. It was a step-by-step process of moving forward but not engaging in extensive divergent thinking. We had to meet the syllabus requirements.
And we are out in the ‘real’ world, and are grappling with lines and margins and working towards a career.
The days are not six hour days, over the course of a five day a week with two hours of homework each night, aside from Mondays when you have drama, and Wednesdays when you have tennis.
Now its reading the newspaper, the classics, listening to new music, being familiar with old music, going to pubs, social events, the latest cult movie, your friend’s gig, the uni social, the post-school catch up, watching that thing on tv, watching the one on SBS because your lecturer told you to, getting your work done, and try and do the compulsory readings as well as the required ones. We can work part-time, try to get on centre-link, take up an internship, defer and travel, defer and take up volunteer work, or defer and do nothing. And this is what’s so daunting.
You might be doing an arts degree, majoring in ancient greek history and theatre performance, wondering how you will get a job that combines all your interests and makes you feel satisfied, and as if you are giving something to the world.
Seth Godin says “the tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.”
Seth Godin believes the world now exists where we will need to use our genius. The world doesn’t want factory workers now that live a routine life style with a thin margin of error and receive successive pats on the back when you do your job.
And if we want to live in this world, the margin or error is wide. We have room for mistakes, successes and failures. We have room to prioritise and innovate. We have room to follow our passion and create our lives.
We need innovation. Without innovation and creative thinking our world become smaller and closed. Even throughout Chinese history, it is known that the times China opened up to the world, it flourished. The hundred schools of thought brought ideas, freedom and prosperity.
Interestingly enough, the Grandes-Ecoles, the elite schools in France based on a competitive test system, have become more closed over the years as the same children from the same bourgeois background fill the system.
This article, in the New York Times says;
The problem is not simply the narrow base of the elite, but its self-satisfaction. “France has so many problems with innovation,” Mr. Descoings said. Those who pass the tests “are extremely smart and clever, but the question is: Are you creative? Are you willing to put yourself at risk? Lead a battle?” These are qualities rarely tested in exams.
So although I struggle with the idea of a small margin of error, and living without successive pats on the back, I know that a world of thought, innovation and freedom is exactly where I want to be. I am learning to trust the grace that lies within a large margin of error. I’m trusting that I have been given unique gifts and passions and can learn to use them to create a world that Seth Godin calls the new world of work, “the linchpins… people who own their own means of production, who can make a difference, lead us and connect us”. Here we go gen-y, let’s see where we end up.