No fear!

Dear reader, 

In my post “I’d rather get a B” I forgot a reason for pursuing a B (alias secondary) activity. Actually, it is a very sound and practical reason, so I thought it would be better to fill the gap with a quick post.

As many of you have noticed, things work until they are broken. Software is fine until you hit a bug. Trading shares is good until the next financial crisis. Nuclear plants are safe until the next bigger-than-ever tsunami. Please don’t suppose that I am a nihilist that believes that those things are useless since they are fallible: my point is that you should expect some kind of failure or glitch and plan accordingly.

In the softest voice there’s an acid tongue
In the oldest eyes there’s a soul so young
In the shakiest will there’s a core of steel
On the smoothest ride there’s a squeaky wheel
In the sweetest child there’s a vicious streak
In the strongest man there’s a child so weak

Bravest Face – Rush

Oh, surely you want to hear the most important one, for our purposes, of the series: jobs are secure and likeable until they are not.

Concepts like “the security of a corporate job” or “this company is too big/old/established to fail” are deeply ingrained into our way of thinking, even if they are clearly misleading. (In)famous examples are so abundant and over-used that I want to take a look from a personal angle. The company I work for has been around for 196 years and, being an insurance company, I’m pretty sure that its risks are measured and mitigated properly. However, the landscape is constantly shifting, infinitesimally but incessantly: like the continents, getting closer by less than a centimetre every year, a subtle and almost undetectable motion that is enough to create earthquakes now and then. People retire, new employees are recruited, even manager and the CEO are not forever, the Board could vote to steer the company in a different direction. Less than two hours ago a colleague withdraw from the “open library project” since she is leaving the company. I have no doubt that the company will be around until my retirement. I have (almost) no doubt that there will always be some usefulness for my tiny contribution. I ask myself two different (and closely related) questions: am I sure that the company will always live up to present moral, ethical, technological and working standards? Am I sure that there will never be a better opportunity for me?

So, without resorting to examples of dramatic failures, I tried to instill into you a sense of urgency and of opportunity that should not be seen as a source of fear: instead, I hope that you may perceive the powerful drive that comes from the responsibility for yourself and from not feeling too tied to a job or a position. Feel free, and at the same time obliged, to explore new subjects and crafts!

So be ready: you may have to jump sooner than you think, either out of opportunity or of sheer need. A good plan B can be your parachute, the fulfillment of your dreams, or both.

Until next time, B ready!