Fresh out of school, my first job was in the electric motor research and development division of Toshiba. The job had a certain cachet to it – Toshiba is a household name and to say you are in the “research and development” division of anything sounds cutting edge. I enjoyed the feel of those words as they tumbled out of my mouth and the eyebrow raises that accompanied it.
It didn’t take long before I knew motor R&D wasn’t for me. Great coworkers, friendly boss, a relaxed environment? Check, check, check. What didn’t resonate was the work itself – to be truly great at research and development, your scope of vision has to continually shrink. A different, exploratory version of the world resonated with me. I knew my departure was a matter of time. But to where? Two years in, I sought the counsel of an old veteran of Toshiba – he had been there over 30 years and seemed determined to stay the course despite behavior that earned him the nickname of Eeyore. A young Travis was curious to know – what kept him there and why?
“In the first few years I was frustrated and hoped for a change. But eventually I just figured that any job is going to have problems. It’s comfortable here. So I decided that I would stay.”
True Comfort is Earned
Looking back at that comment, I can see the wisdom in it. Every job has its problems, no matter how good the fit. But at the time, I only saw a man with no passion, deciding he had no control of his future and zombie walking to a finish line. I saw a specter of myself – working 30 years at an ill-fitting job for one reason: it was comfortable.
Here’s the truth about comfort. Comfort is infinitely better when earned. True comfort is rest. Rest that is achieved when the toils of one’s labor necessitate it. How much better did that shower feel after a five-mile run versus a day of lounging? How much better is lounging with friends when you crushed pivot tables all week?
The Danger of Settling
Comfort is the silent killer of our society. It has relegated United States to the middle of the pack in academic achievement. It keeps our best and brightest at the wrong jobs. It keeps managers making fear-based decisions. It kept my fingers hovered over the keys even though I’ve known since the age of 9 I was meant to write. It kept me from pursuing entrepreneurship for years despite a childhood that left my family shocked that I majored in something outside of business.
You dread Mondays? You can’t wait for the week to pass you by? Every day is a chance to be alive, to breathe goodness in, to do good work that resonates. On this Monday wake up. Be uncomfortable. Do great work.
Cover Picture – Credit Lenin Estrada