Yesterday I had a lot of very uninteresting miles to think about the real reason I'm out here; finding my next mission in life. I kept thinking about something a potential employer said to me on an interview a while back. I went to Singapore to look at a job as a project manager updating an oil rig in the gulf of Thailand. I'm not really a project manager per se, but the job looked really interesting.
After spending about three or four days learning about the industry and going out to the rig to see the challenge I came back to the office and expressed my enthusiasm and interest in the job. The owner of the company, who is pretty clever dude, kept asking me how I like the industry. I knew from the question that the correct answer was that I love it, I pour kerosene on my pancakes and marinate my chicken in diesel. But the truth was that I don't really care. It's fascinating, it's new to me and I know nothing about it so it would be very challenging, I'd like that it adds another diverse element to an already eclectic resume, but I doubt it will be the last industry I work in.
He's Swedish and a very direct kinda guy, I respect that. One thing he said has troubled me ever since though. He said, "you have to specialize in something, you can't be a generalist, otherwise you'll end up like me; useless." Funny thing is that this guy owns an oil rig making something like 6000 barrels of oil a day.
The problem seems to be that everyone wants you to specialize in something, but I like being a little more of a generalist. I like having to rapidly learn something, and apply a very diverse background and set of skills to find new solutions to problems. It seems to me that it takes as much energy to learn 90% of something as it does to learn the remaining 10%. To say it another way, it takes as much energy to get an A- as it does to get from an A- to an A+. I'd rather be an A- in lots of areas than the best in just one. Life is short, learn and experience as much as you can, right?
Now, I know what the Swede was looking for, and I'm happy and eager to learn to do the best job possible for his project, but I had to be honest with him and explain that I was very interested in the oil and gas industry, but it's just another industry and it's probably not as unique as people think it is. So many employers appear to want a candidate with a very narrow focus, someone who was born to be a cog that fits only their myopic view of what the role needs.
I used to hire people based on attitude, enthusiasm ability to adapt. It created diverse teams that produced unique solutions and ran circles around our competition. The last company I worked for gave me the trust and freedom to manage as I saw fit and in return they had a group they were really proud of. But like the ronin, my master is dead, killed off in the 2008 economic downturn. Now I feel like I'm left with two options; 1)Like the some of the ronin, hire myself out to anyone willing to pay for my services and have little allegiance to anything more than a paycheck, or 2) Find a new master, one with a great problem that I can help with and pour myself into the mission. If I can't find option 2 soon, I'll have to resort to option 1 but there's something really vacant about that route.
By the way, I would have taken that job, but the quality of life for spouses of ex-pats is fairly low and Bethany probably would not have stayed with me for the year that was required. Too bad though, it was a very interesting challenge.
A couple of pictures from the Songkhla oil field, Gulf of Thailand.
It's hot, damn hot. I feel like my head could burst into flames at any moment.