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Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For
You
Is what you are doing with your career what you should be doing? If so, how do you really know? And if
not, what actions can you take to move in the right direction? A few thousand years ago, it turns out
Aristotle had quite a lot to say on this topic.

Flashback 100 years: Two Oxford University undergrads stumbled upon a vast archive of blackened
papyrus just outside the Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus, near modern Cairo. The papyri were fragile and
fragmented, worm-eaten, and so blackened by the passage of time that they were almost entirely illegible.
Sitting stacked in nearly 800 boxes at Oxford University, these documents have caused excitement and
frustration in equal measure for more than a century.

Recently, however, a team of scientists made a startling discovery. By using a digital camera with a series
of ultraviolet and infrared filters, they could highlight the contrasts between text and background in
manuscripts that had been previously undecipherable. More than a century after this treasure chest of
ancient documents was first located, we are finally beginning to truly open it.

One of the grandest discoveries thus far has been sections of Aristotles lost book Invitation to Philosophy.
Through translation, one of the seminal voices and intellects in the entire history of civilization has been
brought back to life.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 1 of 7
Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

An image from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Could this be you? (Photo credit: Washington University
Papyri Collection)

So what does Aristotle have to say about leading a career that is uniquely right for you? In fact, he
highlights two powerful conclusions.

Deliberate Action Matters. Whatever your direction, do not let your career happen to you. Take the
wheel and drive. Even when two outcomes are identical, Aristotle argues, those that result from deliberate

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 2 of 7
Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

action have much greater value than those that occur willy-nilly, without any particular intent on our part.

Imagine two sailors starting out from the same dock. One tacks left and right, riding the wind and playing
the tides and current as best he can. The other quickly tires of all that, furls his sail, naps on the deck, and
lets the boat drift where it will. Conceivably, under the right conditions, both could end up several hours
later at the intended destination. Aristotle would argue that the end point has utterly different meaning for
the two sailors because the journeys that got them there are nothing alike.

Aristotle taught that no matter the ultimate destination, deliberate action does matter. If he were teaching
today, he might put it, Its the journey, stupid. We have to be the one steering the ship. If we simply let
ourselves drift toward happiness or fulfillment or any goalor if we let others determine the route that
will get us there, or what the goal itself will bewe have lost control of our own journey. We can never
fully enjoy, or even at a subconscious level, embrace the outcome unless we take action.

Winning is about variation, not conformity. Aristotle also asserted that our actions must not only
have intent, they must be personal, with goals and objectives and outcomes defined by you alone. Nearly
all of us will eventually discover the wisdom in this statement, but often far to late in life.

Its no wonder that so many of us feel rut-stuck climbing todays corporate ladder. Only one person can
win that game, just as only one person can have the most money or the most twitter followers. Our entire
system of reflecting on our own success is based on a pyramid scheme, where more than 99% of us will
ultimately not win the game. And even when you do win it, what have you won? A game whose rules were
set by someone else in the first place. Thats not winning. Its succumbing. Winning is trying and failing.
Winning is finding your own path forward, striving toward your own definition of success, your own rules
of happiness. Winning, in a word, is variance, not conformity.

Are you following Aristotles advice in your own career and life? Well, what you are doing now is a matter
of record. What you should be doingwhat work is right for you, what track will bring you the greatest
fulfillmentis utterly personal and singular. A million monkeys at a million word processors couldnt
begin to scratch in print the surface of the possibilities.

What you could be doing is what Aristotle was talking about.

What you could be doing is focusing on life-changing opportunities that offer a significant increase in your
happiness.

What you could be doing is making certain you are on the right journey: leveraging your own unique

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 3 of 7
Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

strengths and passions in search of directions that will compel others to join and support you in your
quest.

Page 1

Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You

Is what you are doing with your career what you should be doing? If so, how do you really know? And if
not, what actions can you take to move in the right direction? A few thousand years ago, it turns out
Aristotle had quite a lot to say on this topic.

Flashback 100 years: Two Oxford University undergrads stumbled upon a vast archive of blackened
papyrus just outside the Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus, near modern Cairo. The papyri were fragile and
fragmented, worm-eaten, and so blackened by the passage of time that they were almost entirely illegible.
Sitting stacked in nearly 800 boxes at Oxford University, these documents have caused excitement and
frustration in equal measure for more than a century.

Recently, however, a team of scientists made a startling discovery. By using a digital camera with a series
of ultraviolet and infrared filters, they could highlight the contrasts between text and background in
manuscripts that had been previously undecipherable. More than a century after this treasure chest of
ancient documents was first located, we are finally beginning to truly open it.

One of the grandest discoveries thus far has been sections of Aristotles lost book Invitation to Philosophy.
Through translation, one of the seminal voices and intellects in the entire history of civilization has been
brought back to life.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 4 of 7
Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

An image from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Could this be you? (Photo credit: Washington University
Papyri Collection)

So what does Aristotle have to say about leading a career that is uniquely right for you? In fact, he
highlights two powerful conclusions.

Deliberate Action Matters. Whatever your direction, do not let your career happen to you. Take the
wheel and drive. Even when two outcomes are identical, Aristotle argues, those that result from deliberate

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 5 of 7
Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

action have much greater value than those that occur willy-nilly, without any particular intent on our part.

Imagine two sailors starting out from the same dock. One tacks left and right, riding the wind and playing
the tides and current as best he can. The other quickly tires of all that, furls his sail, naps on the deck, and
lets the boat drift where it will. Conceivably, under the right conditions, both could end up several hours
later at the intended destination. Aristotle would argue that the end point has utterly different meaning for
the two sailors because the journeys that got them there are nothing alike.

Aristotle taught that no matter the ultimate destination, deliberate action does matter. If he were teaching
today, he might put it, Its the journey, stupid. We have to be the one steering the ship. If we simply let
ourselves drift toward happiness or fulfillment or any goalor if we let others determine the route that
will get us there, or what the goal itself will bewe have lost control of our own journey. We can never
fully enjoy, or even at a subconscious level, embrace the outcome unless we take action.

Winning is about variation, not conformity. Aristotle also asserted that our actions must not only
have intent, they must be personal, with goals and objectives and outcomes defined by you alone. Nearly
all of us will eventually discover the wisdom in this statement, but often far to late in life.

Its no wonder that so many of us feel rut-stuck climbing todays corporate ladder. Only one person can
win that game, just as only one person can have the most money or the most twitter followers. Our entire
system of reflecting on our own success is based on a pyramid scheme, where more than 99% of us will
ultimately not win the game. And even when you do win it, what have you won? A game whose rules were
set by someone else in the first place. Thats not winning. Its succumbing. Winning is trying and failing.
Winning is finding your own path forward, striving toward your own definition of success, your own rules
of happiness. Winning, in a word, is variance, not conformity.

Are you following Aristotles advice in your own career and life? Well, what you are doing now is a matter
of record. What you should be doingwhat work is right for you, what track will bring you the greatest
fulfillmentis utterly personal and singular. A million monkeys at a million word processors couldnt
begin to scratch in print the surface of the possibilities.

What you could be doing is what Aristotle was talking about.

What you could be doing is focusing on life-changing opportunities that offer a significant increase in your
happiness.

What you could be doing is making certain you are on the right journey: leveraging your own unique

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 6 of 7
Two Timeless Tips To Find The Career That Is Uniquely Right For You - Forbes 10/12/15, 5:05 PM

strengths and passions in search of directions that will compel others to join and support you in your
quest.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ricksmith/2014/09/15/scientists-recentluscript-what-they-discovered-may-change-the-way-you-lead-and-live/ Page 7 of 7