A few days ago we posted LITGer Jack McDaniels’ letter to his daughter upon graduating high school. He told her he expected her to fail, a lot and often. Since it’s Father’s Day, we thought it appropriate to share more of the gold Jack bestowed upon his daughter in that lovely graduation missive. 

Our models of work and career are no longer relevant. They are no longer capable of feeding us, either literally or spiritually. Let me explain. Your world is the world of revolution and change. It is the world of connectedness and empowerment. It is the world of your own individual making. And you are – if you choose – the leader of this world.

No longer can we (you) depend upon a 40 hour work week with a benefits package and a pension. Those days are gone. At least, they are gone for most of us and certainly the majority of your graduating class. Some of your fellow students will still seek out this path, not understanding that theirs is the more perilous journey. They won’t realize that they are disposable, a throw-away cog in an archaic and humongous machine. The safety they seek is but a mirage in the connection economy.

The old economy told us that finding a job in a big company and putting time in every day by doing as you were told and following the rules would give you everything you wanted, including those benefits and the pension at the end of your service. But those positions, and the people in them, are simply commodities in the connection economy. They can be filled by anyone with a minimum level of competence and education. Commodities lack value and worth other than their cost, which is always being driven lower and lower. And, as you are aware, there is always someone willing to work for less. In the connection economy all of those jobs have gone to places like China and India. They are the low bid winners in the race to the bottom. Besides, unlike you, commodities can’t metamorphose into something new with an idea or thought that has popped into their head, or germinated over years before blossoming. You can do that.

Your world, your personal economy, is based upon the value you can bring to others. Your uniqueness defines that value. So, too, does your ability to connect with others. Read that again. It is important. Make certain you understand it. The value you add to the lives of others will determine your success. Regardless of the product or service you produce you will have to answer two important questions. The first is why are you here? What is your reason for existing? What is unique about you? Answer this with honesty and clarity and you can lead your group. People, like-minded people, are looking for you to lead them. And as their leader you can create your own economy. Your group may begin small – and it should – but it can and will grow with time.

You’ve spent years complaining about “the system” and school. You have said on numerous occasions that the way we are taught is just a method for keeping us in line, never really challenging how we approach or see the world. Conformists and lemmings, you have said, is all that they are training you to be. You were correct. That was the old economy. Factories with production lines produced the same object over and over in the past. It was important that the workers not think or dream while they attached handles to doors, or injected plastic into the machines that produced the miniature super-heroes you and your friends played with. Those jobs are now in China and other parts of the world. You have an innate understanding of the position you are in. The old economy is trying to impose its system upon you and you have seen it for what it is.

So, here is my advice to you. Spend the next few years finding your group and developing your voice. Then lead that group. Lead it well and you can celebrate your success for a long time to come. Lead it well and you will have mattered and added value to the world. And that, of course, is my true expectation for you.

Happy Father’s Day to Jack and all the other dads out there!



Jack McDaniel is a writer and artist whose essays have appeared in various places online and in print, including: Tiny Lights, Technorati and Storybook. He currently lives in Colorado with his teenage daughter. You can read more here: http://www.agentsoftheundertow.com

1 Comment

  • n. jake

    Good article very good advice.
    Many people forget what you said, “Your world, your personal economy, is based upon the value you can bring to others.”
    -Most people take it in a negative way in pursuit of money.

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