And What Do You Do

Katie Ledger’s just released book, ‘And What Do You Do?’ is a primer to personal entrepreneurship. Building up ‘You’ Incorporated. As explored on many occasions (Secrets from Failure, Don’t Worry Be Crappy, The Alza Moment,, ‘entrepreneurship’ is a ripe field for illustrating the upsides of embracing downsides.

The book is constantly highlighting the important of overcoming the fear of failure, understanding ones failures, accepting the inevitability of failure and learning from failure. In fact, one section is entitled ‘Learning from Failures’.

“We prefer to use the word ‘setbacks’ instead of ‘failure’. However, it’s a term commonly used and one that often has dire psychological consequences for people who use it, which is why we’ve put it in inverted commas here. The word ‘failure’ is normally used pejoratively. Rarely can it be used descriptively as almost always it’s someone’s opinion. And almost always what we really mean is that something that we have tried hasn’t worked out. That is the be all and end all of it. Yet sadly we then label the experience as a failure and all too often broaden that out to state that we are a failure. We believe strongly that we wouldn’t get far in life without some things going wrong for us. The challenge is to ensure that we learn from what went wrong.”

More than just accepting bona fide, past failure, Katie promotes actively embracing potential, future failure…

“Whatever your current work status, we would very strongly urge you to think like a freelancer. If you knew your job was being axed in two months’ time, what exactly would you be doing today, tomorrow and the day after that? If you knew you’d be searching for a new job or jobs,how would you go about it? Where would you start?”

She goes on to talk about the opportunities that ‘reinvention’ present. The entertainment world is rife with examples of reinvention – Madonna, Kylie. But I can speak from personal testimony of the power of personal reinvention. My father reinvented himself from an architect to a clergyman becoming an expert in church architecture. My wife, Lori, is in the process of reinventing herself from a classical singer to a vocologist with an eye to becoming a specialist in treating professional voice users. The lesson here is that the field one ‘abandons’ is not a ‘loss’, but rather the foundation to bringing specific and distinctive extra dimension to the new field. One does not have a ‘hopping’ career (hopping from one job to another), but a ‘portfolio’ with each set of experiences expanding and enriching each new venture.

A great read with colourful (in both illustration and language) cartoons from digerati doyen Hugh Macleod.