In an interview
with entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, writer and creator of the Wait But Why
blog Tim Urban says that you can group all careers into 2 buckets:
- Careers where you’re the CEO, and
- Careers where you work for the CEO
Careers where you’re the CEO include trying to start your own company, win fans and make a name for yourself in the arts, or work as a freelancer. These are all paths where you’re driving the ship of your career and making the key decisions.
Those careers where you work for the CEO involve being on “an existing ship that’s driven by someone else, and you’re doing a job on that ship.” For Urban, this includes not only obvious situations where you’re an employee of an organization, but also cases where the career itself is a predefined ship, like being a doctor or lawyer.
He acknowledges that our society glorifies the “you-as-CEO” paths, and can make people who don’t want to be the CEO of their career feel inferior. But it’s important to remember that “neither of these paths is inherently better or worse than the other – it just depends on your personality, your goals, and what you want from a lifestyle.”
As Urban points out, there are some smart, special, and talented people whose gifts are best expressed as CEO. For others, their gifts are best expressed when someone else is worrying about keeping the lights on, and they can focus on their work.
Similarly, there are some people who need to be CEO to find their work fulfilling, and others “for whom being CEO and having their work bleed into everything is a recipe for misery.”