John Scherer: Quit Your Job and Find Your Work at TEDxKrakow (Transcript)

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Full transcript of John Scherer’s TEDx Talk: Quit Your Job and Find Your Work at TEDxKrakow Conference.

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John Scherer – Founder, Scherer Leadership Center

This is great.

[Polish language]

Can you turn the master volume down up there a little bit? Someone in the sound booth? Good.

This has been a great experience for me, living in Poland for the last 3 years, I’ve lived in Krakow, I love your city, I love the people, I love Poland. Thank you, it’s a great place.

I go back to Seattle, where I have my office in Seattle. People say, “John, what are you doing in Poland?”

And I say, “You’ve never been there; have you?”

Now, there’s certain things that are different about Poland than America as you might go. We were at the end of one of our 3.5-day leadership development seminars, and a participant came up at the end, and I said, “How was this for you?”

And he said, “Nieźle, nieźle.”

And I turned to my colleague, Darek. It’s my first week in Poland. And I turned to my colleague Darek, and I said, “Darek, what does that mean?”

And he said, “Not bad.”

And I said, “Not bad?”

Geez, 3.5 days!

And Darek said, “The guy just told you that you changed his life.”

And I said, “Well, why didn’t he tell me?”

He said, “He did, he told you it was ‘not bad’.”

He said, “John, this is Poland!”

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So, anyway, it’s been a wonderful time here.

I want to talk with you about something dear to my heart, and it goes like this: How to turn your workplace, your job, into an experience of personal development? You know what a midlife crisis is, right? A midlife crisis is when you get to the top rung of your ladder and realize you leaned it against the wrong wall.

Now — so, I’m going to do anything I can in the next 18, now 16 minutes, to help you lean your ladder against the right wall.

All right? OK. Nieźle, not bad!

Now, some of you that are already past your midlife crisis, I have another saying for you, and that is, “It’s never too late to become what you might have been.”

OK? So here we go. We’re going to go fast.

Where do you spend most of your awake time? What’s the answer? Work. Maybe some of you are students, but when I ask the question: “How many of you spend 8 hours a day at work?” Let’s say you work, raise your hand, 8 hours a day. OK, 9 hours a day? 10 hours a day? Come on 11? Come on 12? See? OK, I rest my case.

You work more than you sleep. You spend more time at work awake than anywhere else in your life, so the workplace is an extremely important part of your life. Now, I ask people, I’m going to ask you.

As a human being, are you a finished product, or are you a work in progress? What would your answer be? Work in progress, everybody says that.

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I go, “OK, where do you do your progressing? Where do you do your developing?” And people talk about seminars, and they talk about their religious institutions. They’re reading books and so forth.

And I say, “What about the workplace?”

And they go, “Workplace? What’s that got to do with, you know, progressing?”

So this is my mission in life, really. It’s to help people turn their workplace into a place where they can grow and develop.

In America, this is kind of the way it’s seen by many people. It’s like I have a life and I have work. How do these two relate to each other? Some people have it — Let’s see, do I have a laser here? Does this work? Yeah, oh, cool.

So, some people have a life and a work and they’re trying to put them together in some equal fashion. Other people say, “You know what? No, my life –” I think some of the people who were up here, performing, are this way: “I’ve got a life. And my work is a part of my life but it’s not my whole life.” This is what I experience in Poland: I experience that —

I was giving a talk recently in Wrocław, and a young man came up to me, he’s a photographer, and he said, “My mother said, ‘Why are you wasting the education that we gave you? Why don’t you go get a real job?'”

And, because — He said, “My mother is from the older generation in Poland, where the important thing is to have a job. It doesn’t matter what the job is, it doesn’t matter if it fits you or not. Doesn’t matter if it has anything to do with what you really want to do. You’ve got a job? Keep the job.

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“For Pete’s sake, why don’t you get a job, so you’ll have a job?”

I’ll tell you in a minute why I’m going to advocate that all of you — How many of you have a job? In a minute you’re going to see, I’m going to advocate that you quit your job. So standby.

Don’t get nervous, it’s alright.