Here they are: The five posts from 2014 that had the most readers.
All five of the posts in this list are about people grappling with the expectations we put on smart people.
And all five posts grew out of coaching, because the people I coach are amazing. They are generally very smart and thoughtful. And they have the self-assurance to be able to withstand my blunt conversation.
Most people send me thank you notes. A lot of those people who send thank you notes also end up saying it was not what they expected, and they cry.
I tell you this to let you know how hard the problems are that we are all dealing with. The expectation that if you are smart you will have a great career is a really messed-up expectation. Because it assumes there is only one path for smart people (big career) and also it assumes that we know what a great career looks like (full-time? part-time? linear? non-linear?).
Expectations around what smart people should be able to accomplish seem to me to be the cause of adult-life disappointment. Because the expectations are not reasonable. And when I look closely I see that’s because school teaches you that if you are smarter than most people, and you show it in achievement-oriented, measurable ways, then you will have a good life, which equals a good career.
So this year our discussions have focused on what, exactly, does it mean to have a good career? And what does it mean to live adult life as a smart person? We are all on a quest, I think, to define success for ourselves. It’s a scary prospect because often we don’t believe our own standards are valid. But if we don’t keep working on that, we risk living someone else’s idea of a good life.
In other news, the most popular course of the year was:
This is notable for three reasons:
1. The course hasn’t even happened yet (it is live starting Jan. 5), so it’s still selling a lot (hooray).
2. I convinced Paul Tieger to do the course with me. He’s by far the biggest authority on parenting and personality type, and he declines all invitations. Which means this year I mastered the art of the ass-kissing email by not looking too kissy.
3. I’m admitting what the most popular course is. For most of my career, I have tried not to talk about myself as a parent. In the past I’d have skipped telling you the most popular course.
But I’m happy. I’m happy that the posts that have been the most popular have also been ones I’ve loved writing. And I’m happy that the course that was most exciting for me to put together this year is the one you guys are excited about as well.