November 25, 2009

What should I do with my life?

There is this article (thanks Amy!) that has been in my list of "links to check out" for some months. The intriguing title both kept me from deleting it and from reading it just like that, when I had no real attention for it.
Now I found the time to read it in full. The author, Po Bronson, has written a book after interviewing 900 people, and then selecting 70 to analyse deeply how they had made their life choices. According to him, most problems in answering The Question stem from four basic misconceptions (about money, smarts, place, and attitude). He turns the misconceptions into positive assertions and distills some take-away lessons:

MONEY Doesn't Fund Dreams
Shouldn't I make money first -- to fund my dream? The notion that there's an order to your working life is an almost classic assumption: Pay your dues, and then tend to your dream. I expected to find numerous examples of the truth of this path. But I didn't find any.

SMARTS Can't Answer The Question
...the idea that smarts and intensity are the essential building blocks of success and satisfaction is a product of the past decade. A set of twin misconceptions took root during the celebration of risk and speed that was the 90s startup revolution. The first is the idea that a smart, motivated individual with a great idea can accomplish anything. The corollary is that work should be fun, a thrill ride full of constant challenge and change.
[...] What am I good at? is the wrong starting point. People who attempt to
deduce an answer usually end up mistaking intensity for passion.

PLACE Defines You
Every industry has a culture. And every culture is driven by a value system.
[...] One of the most common mistakes is not recognizing how these value systems will shape you. People think that they can insulate themselves, that they're different. They're not. The relevant question in looking at a job is not What will I do? but Who will I become? What belief system will you adopt, and what will take on heightened importance in your life?

ATTITUDE Is the Biggest Obstacle
Environment matters, but in the end, when it comes to tackling the question, What should I do with my life? it really is all in your head.
[...] Probably the most debilitating obstacle to taking on The Question is the fear that making a choice is a one-way ride, that starting down a path means closing a door forever.
"Keeping your doors open" is a trap. It's an excuse to stay uninvolved.

As there are some new ideas for the course of my life on the table these days, I am concerned with making good decisions. There is a lot in this article for me and I maybe those words can help me be clearer about my personal answers. So I am asking myself the question of What is the environment I wanna work in? because it will change the way I am in the future. I am asking How important should money be in my choice? because I know that it's not what will ultimately make me happy. I need to be aware of the danger of playing it all out in my head and never trying anything for real. And after all I need to be clear about the fact that nothing I decide today will set me to an irreversible course to the future.

My worries are soothed for now and I can get back to work. Reflection is good, but only if followed by action ;)

November 18, 2009

Uni Augsburg brennt

Eine Pressemitteilung zur Besetzung des Hörsaals I an der Uni Augsburg: hier.

Es geht richtig ab in Augsburg. Eher nichtsahnend, was alles kommen würde, bin ich gestern früh zur Demo des Augsburger Bildungsbündnisses gegangen, wo vor allem Schüler und einige engagierte Studenten sich versammelten und anschließend durch die Stadt zogen (anfangs 500, am Ende 1000). Wir kamen an allen Gymnasien vom Peutinger bis zum Holbein vorbei und machten Lärm und einige Schüler sprangen angesichts der abgeschlossenen Türen aus den Fenstern im Erdgeschoss. Ganze Klassen und auch ein Lehrer schlossen sich dem Protest an. Inspirierende Erfahrung! Mein Rucksack war zu schwer, denn mit dem langen Marsch von 4 Stunden hatte ich echt nicht gerechnet, und auch nicht mit der Fahne, die mir ein Freund von den Grünen zum Tragen überreichte ;) Aber der allgemeine Enthusiasmus reichte weit.

Nach Mensaessen gings dann direkt in den Hörsaal I an der Uni, wo gerade die Besetzung begonnen hatte. Die Presse in Augsburg ist mittlerweile voll von Bildern, aber dieser Video-Beitrag von Augsburg TV verdient eure besondere Aufmerksamkeit!

Nach einigen Stunden voller inhaltlicher Diskussionen im Plenum (Demokratie ist alles andere als einfach!) fand ich dann, es sollte eine Gruppe gebildet werden, die die Brainstormingpunkte für die Abstimmung zusammenfasste. Die Gruppe wurde mit Freiwilligen aus dem Plenum gebildet und die Ergebnisse zum Thema Bologna-Prozess und wie wir uns Veränderungen an der Uni vorstellen, wurden danach präsentiert. Eine Delegation wurde auf Betreiben der Fachschaft Sozialwissenschaften ins Rathaus geschickt und konnte bei einem Festakt des Uni-Fördervereins sprechen. Großer Erfolg!

Ich war da aber nicht mehr dabei, denn Entspannung in der Aikidostunde war wichtiger für meine mentale Gesundheit. Zu viel Input und Action muss man eben ausgleichen. Einige haben im Hörsaal übernachtet und jetzt sitze ich wieder hier und bin einfach dabei :) Bin sehr gespannt, was die weiteren Stunden und Tage bringen!

For a summary in English: There are currently huge public protests in Germany, Austria and other European countries that aims at reforms in the educational system. There have been demonstrations in more than 50 cities and many students have occupied the biggest auditorium at their respective universities, effectively blocking the usual classes from taking place. (map)

The main subjects of discussion and claims by students involve the rolling back of increasing education fees (they have only been introduced in Germany a few years back, before that, all school and university education was free) and improvements of the implementation of the so-called "Bologna Process" (main points: europe-wide introduction of Bachelor and Master degrees replacing the old established systems of degrees, introduction of a credit point system to create European comparability).

In this context, I spent yesterday walking around the city for 4 hours, making noise and chanting in front of schools with around 1000 fellow students from middle school to university. I had not planned on it and carried a heavy backpack, but the energy was electrifying. After lunch we occupied a big auditorium, formed workgroups for media contact, food and communication among others. I went on to work with a group to create a clear list of claims from a bunch brainstorming points and present it ot the plenum. Needless to say that by the end of the day I was done with the world, but today I am back (some 50 students stayed in the auditorium overnight). Let's see how this continues...