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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quitter: The First Chapter

Quitter: The First Chapter

I'm reading a book called Quitter, by Jon Acuff.

It's good. Very good.

So far, the book describes the difference between a day job and a dream job and how the two are related.

Lots of what he's saying hits at the core of my heart, illuminating things I've seen only dimly before. Because I'm a writer, and a teacher, I have now an undeniable urge to pass on some of the good stuff I've found in his book.

Chapter One: Don't Quit Your Day Job

"The trick to removing your clothes in a bathroom stall is to start with your shirt."

That's the first sentence in Jon's book. Really. It's his way of grabbing the reader's attention, drawing him into the essence of this first chapter: Jon hated his day job and loved his dream job.

You'll have to read the book to see how bathroom-stall clothes-removal ties into the conflict between day and dream jobs. But I wanted you to quickly understand Jon's style of writing. He is not the sort of writer who walks in a stately manner up to a podium and begins to lecture. Jon is the goofy, nerdy guy who shambles up front and draws cartoons on the whiteboard, talking about some crazy, alien-from-space story which morphs suddenly into an intensely serious heart-to-heart, honest-to-the-core insight which ignites a torch in the readers mind, illuminating long-dark reaches of a seldom-visited cave.

I really like his style.

Jon is a quitter, a professional quitter, posting enviable stats on the Quitter's Board of Fame. He claims eight jobs in eight years, "...jobs that were all 40-hour-a-week, 401(k)-offering, health-insurance-transferring, me-in-a-plain-colored-cubical jobs." (page 3)

He admits that his career history is a common tale. The average job tenure for 25-34-year-olds is only 3.1 years (page 4). But Jon's experience has shown him that the modern trend toward job-hopping is a result of a massive, generational set of lies:

  • Lie: Work is usually miserable
  • Lie: It's possible to separate who we are at work, from who we are outside of work
  • Lie: To be all we can be, the first step is to quit our jobs

"Despite the fact that quitting your job is the new American dream, it's usually the worst thing you can do right now." (page 6)

The moment you quit your day job, your secure, boring, dream-killing day job, you trade one miserable boss for an innumerable bunch of unrelenting, uncaring bosses:

  • The electric bill
  • The water bill
  • Chase Mortgage
  • Pampers 120-packs
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Trader Joe's
  • Johnny's Auto Repair
  • Comcast Cable
  • Many more...

Leaving your secure day job has the real potential of making your lovely spouse your boss. Financial insecurity can make every dollar the basis for scrutiny, debate and argument. Quitting your day job means your dream job is now longer just for play...it's for keeps. Now your dream job must please the public, because without customers, your dream job will wither and die. Having fun with your dream job in your spare time allowed you the luxury of doing it your way, with little risk. When your dream job because The Only Job, it must be politically correct and economically robust.

"If you have a job - even a less-than-ideal one - you get to say a pretty vital word: No." (page 13)

Building your dream job while staying with your day job allows you to set the terms of how and what you will do. "Saying no is one of your most important resources, especially in the beginning. And the simplest and safest way to kepp your no's is to keep your day job." (page 16)

Stay Dangerous

One of surprising concepts that Jon describes in this first chapter is the necessity of "staying dangerous". For Jon, this means having the economic freedom to experiment or follow paths that might not have much support from others, but it's something important or interesting you you. Your day job requires safe, routine, predictable behavior, but your dream job offers an environment in which you can make, write, sing, produce, create things that are new or different, on the edge and inventive. Quitting your day job too soon requires your dream job to become much more stable, predictable and crowd-pleasing.

"Quitting a job doesn't jump-start a dream because dreams take planning, purpose and progress to succeed. that stuff has to happen befor you quit your day job."

Jon makes a strong case for the benefits of staying with your day job and building your dream job in your spare time.

This first chapter has been encouraging and enlightening...I'm anxious to get to the next chapter.

You can read Quitter or download as an ebook here: Amazon.com