Get out of line and into life

It's time to discover and do what you were put on this earth to accomplish.


Many of us are in a career assembly line that’s producing unremarkable results.

We know it, but it’s too hard to step away from the machine because the widgets keep rolling out.

We long to use our potential and passion, but the risks seem too high. We can’t afford to be idealistic dreamers. Or can we?

Watching an interview, I was freshly motivated by Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and a key investor in Facebook.

He earned a prestigious law degree, went to work for a New York law firm and then a Big Apple bank. But he hit the brakes and did a u-turn. Why walk away from pre-programmed success?


“But I had a quarter-life crisis where it made sense to do something with your life where, if you didn’t do it, it wouldn’t happen,” he said. “That’s versus these tracked careers where if you didn’t do it there are a hundred other people who will take your place.”

At his law firm, about 80 new attorneys would join the ranks each year. After working feverishly for nearly a decade, a handful might get the opportunity to become a partner. But even then, the prospect of making a significant impact was a gamble at best.

“What’s amazing about these top institutions … is that from the outside everyone wants to get in,” he said. “But on the inside it’s very constrictive. It ends up involving a ferocious competition for what I think are relatively small stakes.”

The impact on those who scrape and claw to get up the ladder? “It (zeal) gradually gets rung out of them.”


Thiel, instead, took a gamble and a contrarian path. He didn’t want to occupy the chair that 99 others were waiting to move into.

The result: “It’s been a wild 25 years.”

Thiel reminds me of my friend Kaye Carter, who left a prestigious career in medicine and law to concentrate full time on writing a Christian book and encouraging people with the insights she has discovered. She, too, gave up her chair. And I’m glad she did.

Each of us has a unique contribution to make, not just in our paid vocation, but in life. It may be as a volunteer, a neighbor, an elected official or a parent. In order to make an impact, there will be risks to take and fears and adversity to overcome. 

But, as Seth Godin points out, the cost of failure is usually quite low – much lower than our self-preservation instincts tell us. Do your homework, seek a little advice, roll the dice and sample the risk. Don’t give up just because the going gets tough or feels wrong.

This could be the beginning of your “wild 25 years.” 

The world needs you. You're not like everybody else. Don’t let us down.

P.S. If you need a little musical inspiration, here is The Kinks classic, "I'm Not Like Everybody Else."