Career Direction and Shampooing

Why do high schools typically teach the sciences in the order of biology, then chemistry, then physics? Because of a fixed idea. In the early 1900s there was a debate about the order in which the sciences should be taught and no consensus could be reached. Finally it was decided to teach them in alphabetical order, no other educational justification. Yet educators familiar with the sciences comment that physics should be taught first as it forms the foundation of knowledge on which to build an understanding of the other sciences.

A fixed idea IS an idea you think with and believe, because that’s the way it has always been done; you never really inspect it to see if it makes sense, is it really the best way to do things, is it really true?  An idea that you have truly inspected, evaluated and determined its truth (or untruth) are your beliefs, they are NOT fixed ideas; those evaluated ideas become your principles, your core beliefs.

All my life I shampooed my hair twice. Why? When I was a little boy my mother told me to shampoo my hair twice (and you have to trust your mother don’t you), and the directions on the shampoo bottle say, “Shampoo, rinse and repeat.” (Isn’t this really a marketing concept to get you to buy more Shampoo?) I had been shampooing twice, even though after one shampooing my hair is squeaky clean. One day I resolved that I would only shampoo once; that was one of the hardest, most uncomfortable things I have ever done!. After my first shampooing and rinse, I turned off the water and walked out of the shower, but that felt so uncomfortable I went back into the shower, then ran out to keep my word to myself to only shampoo once, then I went back in – I had to shampoo twice, but again ran out before shampooing again – finally I just ran out of the bathroom dripping wet. All day I checked my hair to feel if it was clean. Now I am able to easily shampoo once, or if needed twice.

How many fixed ideas permeate our every day life, that direct our actions, yet when evaluated make no sense. For example, superstitions are really nothing more than fixed ideas (e.g., break a mirror and it is seven years of bad luck [Howard, a friend of mine, told his mother when he was seven years old, “I want to die now.” His mother was horrified and asked why. Howard answered, “I have broken so many mirrors, my life is over. I will only have bad luck all my life!” A true fixed idea]).

What are the fixed ideas that are found in your career decisions? What are those policies, “truths”, approaches, etc. that you may do all the time, but may have wondered about or seem to be contrary to what would be optimum or ideal?

I realize that it may not be easy to change our accepted fixed ideas, yet we do need to constantly evaluate and ask, “Is that idea, policy, truth or approach truly best for you and your career path, or what needs to be changed?”

Here is, for me, an example of a fixed idea:  “That is a man’s job – or a woman’s job.”  I must admit I still, with all my knowledge and beliefs, am surprised a bit when I see male nurses, as I grew up ‘knowing’ that was a woman’s job.”

What is the Best Career for you?

Mark Twain said it best when he likened educational reform to moving a cemetery, observing, “… it’s difficult to persuade the inhabitants to pick up and move”.  We could say the same about most efforts to reform any area of life. What are the fixed ideas, policies, approaches or truths that you believe need to be picked up and moved in terms of your career choices and direction?

Bernard Percy, President
Foundations of Brilliance, Inc.
An International Education and Career Consulting Company

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau

Our vision is to help people discover their unique areas of brilliance and become passionate, inspired and successful in their careers.

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