Podcast Date: November 25, 2006
There I was, trapped in a tiny office, staring at the clock. Time
seemed to go at a glacial pace. I turned back to the computer, put
my hands on the keyboard, and stared at the screen. I sat like that
for hours- doing no work. But if someone walked by my office, it
looked like I was working on the computer.
Day after day, I did the same mind numbing routine. It was the
most miserable job I ever had-- working for IBM.
Is it possible to make a living in an honest, inspiring, interesting
way? Is it possible to have freedom and autonomy in one's work
life? Does work have to be boring and degrading?
Last night I watched the movie "Office Space", a comedy about office
workers. It was very funny because it was so true. As I watched, I
remembered my experiences working for IBM- many years ago. The
movie captured the sterility, the numbness, and the pointlessness
Sadly, most jobs are like this. Most jobs, in my opinion, are factories
of degradation. The workers' spirit and soul are crushed. Over time,
people who work in such jobs become empty- depressed, heartless,
and boring. Hakim Bey once wrote that "work is the most oppressive
force we face, the greatest source of misery in our lives." This has
certainly been true for me. I hated my job at IBM. I hated the sterility.
I hated the insincerity. I hated the drab offices. I hated the bore-
dom and humiliation.
Since then, I've been on a quest for a better livelihood. I've been
searching and searching for a good job- for something I love to do. I
found that in teaching English. I love doing it. I love working with the
students. They excite and inspire me. I love my time in the class-
Being an English teacher is much better than working for IBM, but its
still not what I consider a "Right Livelihood". As an employee, I
must still follow administrator's rules . I must still use their text-
books, even when i think they are terrible. As an employee, there is
always an element of humiliation, always a whiff of command and
After many years of searching and thinking, I now believe that self-
employment is the only way to have a right livelihood. You simply
must be your own boss or you will never be able to live according to
your own principles. Truthfully, this is the major reason I launched
Effortless English. I was sick of teaching the way other people want-
ed me to teach, sick of using useless textbooks, and sick of expen-
sive schools that failed their students.
I suddenly realized that I had to take the risk and follow my heart. I
had to have the freedom to do what I loved.
Its a little scary when you start to pursue your dream. There are no
guarantees. People tell you that you are crazy. The spectre of fail-
ure always hangs over you. For the first time in your life you and
only you are responsible-- completely responsible.
I once read that a worthy and powerful goal should both terrify and
inspire you. If you don't feel both excited and scared, its probably not
a worthy goal. I agree. Perhaps you also have big dreams. Maybe
you also dream of starting your own business.. or writing a book.. or
going on a great adventure.. or asking out a girl or guy... or studying
abroad. Perhaps you've hesitated to try because actually pursuing
the dream terrifies you. Or maybe the fear of failure scares you.
If so, you should realize that this is good. The fear is good. Your ter-
ror is a good sign, it means you have chosen a worthy goal.
My best advice to you is the accept that fear. Accept it, but don't let it
stop you. Whatever your dream, be terrified, but don't give up. Be
terrified, and then do it.
Because the best antidote to fear- is action.
Podcast Date: November 25, 2006