This and That

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Ideas for blogs about the workplace and careers don’t usually pop out in surf shops.
Surf shops for me are the place where I check out the banged up old boards and wish I was younger whilst the rest of the family checks out the latest fashions for people that hang around water.  Surf shops at one time reeked of fiberglass fumes, now they are more likely to send off bamboo vapors from yoga mats.  But this week, I enjoyed a most revealing, unusual and gnarly chat about careers with a dude who happens to work in a surf shop.

Before the question, “Can I help you?” could even be asked, the surf shop dude looked at me and asked, “What do you do?”  It is never an easy question to answer (just ask my mother), but when asked by a young guy with a long dot under his lower lip and borderline dreadlocks, I wasn’t sure if he really wanted to know or not, so I chose to take the easy way out.

“Oh, a little bit of this and that.” I said, not dismissively, but more like, it’s too hard to explain what a career of venture capitalist, writer, consultant, wine maker would add up to.

“That’s cool,” he smiled, “I’m doing this before I do that.”

“Sometimes this is better than that, you know, so don’t be in a hurry,” I counseled.

“I know, but sometimes if you do this too long, that never happens.  That probably pays the bills better but since I don’t know what that is, this is cool,” he said.

“Given the economy, you are lucky to have this,” I countered.

“Yeah, that for me is going to be really expensive and not sure if it will have a payoff, so this is good enough,” he postured.

“Lots of times this turns into that and you don’t even know this is it.  When this happens you usually wonder about that,” I finished.

“Well, I know when I do that, I can’t do this and this is what I love.  Do you ever wish you were still doing this instead of that?” he asked.

Given that I was talking to a twenty year old in a surf shop on the beach, it was hard to respond any way other than, “This and that can both be pretty good.  Different times require looking at a lot of this until you find that.”


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