Jackman and Peter Harris

Three keys to success: The only career advice I would offer my child

Written by Peter Harris
Posted on

#ThingsIWillTeachMyChild was trending on Twitter this morning.

I am a new(ish) father, my son is not yet two years old. I think about what the future will hold for him all the time. I also spend most of my days thinking about career paths, the pursuit of passion, and the changing world of work. (That’s my job.)

I know I won’t be able to (nor would I want to) tell him what to do with his life, but I would like to able to offer him some useful guidance along the way. I wish for him to be happy and successful at whatever he chooses to do with life.  

So, while he’s still too young to understand, I’ve boiled down the career advice I’ll give him in advance. It’s pretty simple really:

Find something that you really like to do. Work very hard at becoming extremely good at it. Be as nice as possible to every person you meet along the way.

If you’re really good at something that you love doing, you’re probably going to be okay in life. And if you’ve been kind, supportive and helpful with everyone you encounter, you’ll find that there’s a pretty good support network out there ready to return the favour.

There are few talents that I’ve come across for which there is no market whatsoever. Some things are harder to make a living at than others, but especially for those who (as I mentioned) work very hard at becoming really good at it, there’s usually a reward for that passion and effort.

For example, I studied literature. My M.A. thesis included a novel length work of semi-autobiographical fiction, and I published two books of poetry in my twenties. While I have not entered the world of literary greats (as I assumed I would do before dying a rock star death tragically at 27), the years that I spent reading, writing and studying language have always paid off with opportunities to work as a writer in jobs that I have loved.

I have numerous other examples of friends and connections whose strange career paths have followed this formula as well, but I want to publish this while #ThingsIWillTeachMyChild is still trending on Twitter.

#ThingsIWillTeachMyChild: find what it is you like doing best, practice, study, learn and become amazing at it. Be a kind, friendly, positive person who enjoys helping other people. I really think these are the keys to success and being happy in life.

Unfortunately he can’t read yet. I’ll have to teach him these things later.   

Peter Harris

Peter Harris on Twitter

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