Young people often ask me, “What should I do?” Many of us have been there, just out of college or business school, searching for a job or trying to make a decision about a career. If you’re lucky, you have some options. You wonder, “Should I take this job or that one?” Or maybe you think, “I just got an offer for a high-paying job in a major corporation, but I also have a great idea for a business. What should I do?”
These questions are posed as if one alternative might be better than the other on some objective scale. But nothing could be more subjective. It depends entirely on who’s asking the question. What’s your personality? How strong is your drive? How much grit and determination do you have? Do you crave individuality? Success? The only possible answer is: Know thyself.
Has there ever been advice so ancient, so well known, and so ignored ? “Know thyself” was already a common maxim in the fourth century B.C., when it was emblazoned on the entrance to the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, home of the Delphic Oracle. In several of Plato’s dialogues, Socrates notes the importance of this wisdom to living a virtuous life. And it’s just as relevant today as it was back then.
I realized the importance of self-awareness as I grew older and was transitioning from one career to another. By my midtwenties, I had ruled out working for the government or a large corporation. I had nothing against either type of institution; my problem was more personal.
I am about ...