Typically I get a wide range of questions during the Q & As after speaking engagements. But a couple days ago I spoke to approximately 3,000 people and every question could have been summarized like this:
"How do I get to my dream job?"
Most of the people asking were fairly young. Some had only been working for a few years. Yet they were frustrated they hadn't been given the job they really wanted. Promotions were taking too long. Success was taking too long.
Happiness was taking too long.
My answers didn't satisfy them: Working harder than everyone else, doing things no one else is willing to do, being the first one to volunteer, doing not what you want to do but what you need to do to reach your goals... nope. They wanted shortcuts. They wanted them now.
I didn't have any shortcuts to offer.
Then, flying home, I thought about Bon Scott.
In the late 1960s, Bon Scott was the co-lead singer of the Valentines, an Australian pop group that released songs... well, songs like this.
Skip to the 1:28 mark. Yep: There he is, standing to the left of the drummer, doing his best David Cassidy impression.
For a moment, imagine you're Bon Scott. You're a singer for a bubblegum group. Your job is to stand onstage and do a little side-shuffle dance and swing your puffy chiffon-sleeves and sell a chorus like, "With a knick-knack paddy-whack give a dog a bone, this old man came rolling home."
Is that your dream job? Oh, hell no. Worse, there isn't a remotely clear line of sight between it and your dream job.
But still: You're doing the work. You're sharpening your skills. You're gaining experience. You're figuring out who you want to be -- and just as importantly, who you don't want to be.
The Valentines sputter to a halt and four years later you're a chauffeur for a struggling rock band. It's still not your dream job. But you're doing your best.
And one day you hear the band is looking for a new singer. You ask to audition. You get the job.
Now you're the lead singer of a band called AC/DC.
Pretty soon, this is your job.
(Far cry from "This Old Man," eh?)
Few jobs are perfect, especially in the early stages of a career. You may even despise your first job or two. You may despise the job you have now.
But first jobs create the foundation for later jobs (or for gaining the skills and motivation to start your own business.)
Besides, if you do love your first job, that job is probably too easy. Growth happens when you're stretched. Growth happens when you're pushed. Growth happens when you're forced to overcome challenges, obstacles, and self-doubt.
Bon's time in the Valentines -- and in a succession of other bands -- made him a better front man. He learned how to be a better singer. He learned how to command a stage. He learned how to write songs. He learned how to command an audience, how to be a star... and most importantly, how to keep pushing and grinding and forging his own path.
You won't love your first job. You may not love your second job.
And that's a good thing. Those early years of sacrifice and dissatisfaction and struggle create the foundation for later success... and create a lifelong competitive advantage.
Bon Scott wasn't always Bon Scott.
You are not the you that you will someday become, no matter where you are in your career.
Good things often do come to those who wait -- especially to those who work really, really hard while they're waiting.