Job or Calling （仕事なのか、天職なのか）
Ａさんのメールには、Bloomberg に載った Michael Lewis の Commentary と、それに対する Bloomberg 読者たちからのの反響が転載されていました。
Michael Lewis は Liar's Poker などの著者。
A Wall Street Job Can't Match a Calling in Life:
Commentary by Michael Lewis
Dec. 10 (Bloomberg)
-- Recently I received a letter from a young employee of a well-known financial firm, who asked that I not mention his full name, his employer or anything else that might give him away. Though a bit short on self-pity and self- dramatization, this letter was otherwise a fine example of a sort I've received often these past few months.
"I am writing you for advice," Anthony (let us call him) began. "I graduated in May of 2008 and since July have spent my time entangled in the culture of (his well-known New York bank). I'm thinking about leaving. My dad labored his whole life so I could have the opportunity to do something like this, so leaving isn't exactly what I want to do. I know if I stay here I could work unbelievably hard and move through the ranks, or maybe move firms… (but) I guess I'm starting to question the whole securities industry."
The young man went on to concede that what attracted him to Wall Street was the chance to get rich quickly, and the excitement -- but that both of these things now seem gone forever.
"So I have this plan to go to Hollywood," he wrote, but then instantly undermined himself. "I feel confused, a little stupid, but yet somewhat confident. I mean, I read your book, I figured out how to get to Wall Street from a non-Ivy League school, and I got here. The only question now is, if I leave, where do I go?"
Let me try to help sort it out:
Dear Anthony, On several occasions I have taken my own advice and it has almost killed me, and so I'm a tad uneasy about offering it up to you. But if you promise not to take it any more seriously than I do, I'll answer you as best I can.
Let's start by putting your problem into perspective: You still have a job. You work at one of the world's biggest banks. It's true: The thrill and money is rapidly being drained from such places. Your big bank, like all the other big banks, seems to be in the process of being nationalized -- thus the longer you stay the more you may find yourself in something resembling a government job. But that's not all bad: Government jobs are secure. You are also young, in your early 20s, and without a family to support. That is, unlike the vast majority of the people on and off Wall Street, you have the luxury to wallow in your misfortune. Now let's wallow. We're at the beginning of a recalibration of the role of finance in global economic life. The excitement and the money that attracted you to Wall Street will probably not return for a long time. If these really are the only reasons you became a finan! cier you probably should find something else to do with your life.
But before you go lurching into Hollywood let us make sure you aren't simply repeating the mistake you made by lurching onto Wall Street. That is, let us focus less on your immediate condition -- safely employed but disillusioned -- to the habits and beliefs that led you into it. You were never exactly wrong. If you'd been born 10 years earlier and behaved exactly as you have done, your career might well have made you as rich and seemingly successful as you imagined your father wanted you to be. You simply came to Wall Street too late, and are in the strange position of a man who won the lottery on the first day there was nothing in the pot. The mistake you made, in your view, is to have played the lottery on the wrong day. The mistake you made, in mine, was to have played the lottery at all. There's a question you might ask yourself: Am I looking for a job, or a calling? On the one hand the i! mportance you attach to your career suggests a desire for a calling; on the other, your instinct to abandon your chosen career the moment it ceases to offer an easy path to fame and fortune, suggests that what you're really in the market for is a job.
Job vs. Calling
The distinction is artificial but worth drawing. A job will never satisfy you all by itself, but it will afford you security and the chance to pursue an exciting and fulfilling life outside of your work. A calling is an activity you find so compelling that you wind up organizing your entire self around it -- often to the detriment of your life outside of it. There's no shame in either. Each has costs and benefits. There is no reason to make a fetish of your career. There are activities other than work in which to find meaning and pleasure and even a sense of self-importance -- you just need to learn how to look. Reading between the lines of your letter I sense that some of your anxiety is caused by your desire for the benefits of each -- job and calling -- without the costs. Perhaps that is what led you to Wall Street in the first place, and why your mind now turns to Hollywood.
What Wall Street did so well, for so long, was to give people jobs that they could pass off to themselves as well as others as callings. Such was their exalted social and financial status: Wall Street jobs made people feel special without actually having to be special. You never really had to explain why you were doing it -- even if you should have. But really, the same rule that applies to properly functioning financial markets applies to other markets: There's a direct relationship between risk and reward. A fantastically rewarding career usually requires you to take fantastic risks. To get your seat at the table on Wall Street you may have passed through a fine filter, but you took no real risk. You were just being paid, briefly, as if you had. So which is it: job or calling? You can answer the question directly, or allow time to answer it for you. Either way, I think you'd be happier if yo! u stopped thinking of what the world had to offer you, and started thinking a bit more about what you had to offer the world. Real excitement isn't just in whatever you happen to be doing, but in what you bring to it.
In the end, you have to look for it not on the outside, but on the inside. In my experience, if you find it, the other stuff will take care of itself.
(Michael Lewis, author of "Liar's Poker," "Moneyball," and "The Blind Side," is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions he expresses are his own.)
To contact the writer of this column: Michael Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lewis on Wall Street Calling Prompts Outpouring From Readers
By Marty Schenker
Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- "Real excitement isn't just in whatever you happen to be doing, but in what you bring to it," columnist Michael Lewis wrote to young Wall Streeter "Anthony" in this space yesterday.
"In the end, you have to look for it not on the outside, but on the inside. In my experience, if you find it, the other stuff will take care of itself."
Lewis's challenge to the self-doubting young man of finance (Are you "looking for a job or a calling?") prompted an outpouring of reader emotion -- from Wall Street professionals to radio engineers to educators. These readers had clearly given a lot of thought about their careers, making money, and their place in life.
Here's a selection of excerpted responses. I've kept the typography true to the senders, while their names are withheld.
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I'm a radio engineer & build radios for rockets & satellites.....all I ever talked about since jr. high school. I think it was a calling & agree that you build your life around a calling to the detriment of your life outside the calling. I agree with you on this point. In fact I'm at work now at 6:16pm.
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Think a lot if us out there are asking ourselves those very questions. I was fortunate enuf to play the game for 15 years (and still am, though I feel as if I'm as close as a Gen X'er can be to a D-day soldier storming the beaches, watching my friends go down beside me, amazed I'm still standing) so I think its easier to pursue a calling w/out having to worry abt ur next paycheck. Truly hope the next generation of smart kids does something with their lives. Its only now, at 38, that I'm going to try to do something with mine that means more than just where the next trade is.
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Your piece really resonated the theme of the sense of entitlement of the generation currently of this vintage. Excitement? Satisfaction? Fulfillment? I remember graduating in '82 during a similar difficult environment and was more than grateful to be making photo copies at Kidder, Peabody!
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I think there are a ton of guys just like this. People who came to Wall Street not because they enjoy finance but because they thought it was the fastest way to make a quick buck!
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I wanted to make a comment and perhaps you could pass it one to the guy who wrote to you.
To Anthony: Even if you find your calling, conditions might not permit it, and that pursuit could be costly. If you decide to make the leap, ask yourself if you can live with the worst case scenario.
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I think your assessment of the impact of the decline on young people in the industry captures the essence of the mood here in NY and elsewhere.
As a 25 year-old hedge fund employee, and former boutique Investment Bank employee, I sympathize with 'Andrew'. For better or worse, however, the majority of my cohorts seemed to either ignore or not fully appreciate the irrationality of entering a perceived 'no-risk' career path such as Investment Banking. . . .
I, for one, feel fortunate to be a young man witnessing the historic events of 2008 despite the stress related to the fallout. These stresses surely pale in comparison to the stresses of those with real responsibilities . . . .
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THE WHINING HAS TO STOP.... THANKS FOR PUTTING SOME PERSPECTIVE OUT THERE... PREPARE, WORK HARD, HOPE FOR LUCK, AND WORK HARDER... THE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT FOR EMPLOYMENT AND RICHES HAS TO STOP...
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I have just sent your "calling vs job" piece to every member of my family between the ages of 14 and 22.
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Please do not take this personally but I have significant issues with your latest piece.
Why is it always wealthy, highly educated . . .highly compensated, people telling everyone else that money doesn't equal happiness? That people should follow their dreams -- even if they lead them right into the poorhouse?
I know why I am in finance -- partly because I enjoy the action and the excitement of life on the trading desk and also because I know what I want.
I want private school for my kids, I want my kids to go to a better university than Michigan, I want the Porsche S-1 one day, I want the apartment in the city and the summer home and yes, I want to marry a beautiful woman who shares certain values.
None of the above happens if you are a broke high school math teacher or a mediocre screenwriter.
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I have discussed the calling/job distinction with many bright young people over this time. I have also matured to understand this distinction's application to myself very much as you have.
As a kid I thought I had a knack for certain things. Eventually I realized that these skills combined to make me a likely architect. But one day, I realized that I had a calling. That I was MEANT to be an architect and that I was going to be one no matter where I worked. I realized I would be happy to be an architect no matter how much money I did or did not make. I even realized that I would do the job with or without compensation.
Today, I feel as if it is almost impossible for me to be without work. I am doing what I am, and I pretty much invent my own work. (Unlike my Wall Street Harvard MBA brother-in-law.)
I often tell my student/employees that I have not needed an alarm clock for 26 years. They say that they need one because they can't be late. And I say "I don't need one because I can't wait to start".
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"Anthony" is a perfect example of the age of entitlement. I'm surprised that you were so soft on him. . . .
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Oh please come on. The truth is that a lot of guys got into the securities business over the last several years of the bull market who had no business being here. This business has had ups and downs before and the people who are in it because it's their calling in life will be just fine over the long term. The guys who hated it and got in just for the money will get deservedly shaken out. And good riddance i say.
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I have never viewed my job in investment banking -- debt capital markets to be exact -- as some higher level calling. I was never a high level m and a guy or flashy trader bringing home boatloads of cash but managed to make good money by my view given my Dad never made more than 40K a year his whole life.
my job afforded me the ability to travel -- to own a place in costa rica where I love to surf and other amenities. I have always looked at it as a job that allowed to buy far more surfboards than I really need! Youth today has been brainwahshed into thinking they can have everything they want at all times with no tradeoffs -- they are finding out life does not work that way.
So I will likely continue to slog it out with my simple reward being another trip to costa and a perfect wave at sunset. Not the worst gig in the world.
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What if you don't know what you have to offer the world but you know you want to offer something really, really good and you know that you must have something to offer (if only because its too unbearable to think that you may have nothing to offer anyone of any value)?
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Anthony himself did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.