Never Settle: How to help yourself and others have a brighter future

Wilkes student offers advice about making a difference in career and society

Luke Zack, Guest Writer

Luke Zack is a 5th year pharmacy student and has a minor in chemistry. On campus, he has done biochemistry research, helped cofound the Wilkes University Industry Pharmacist Organization and Teach Assisted in Medical Anatomy and Physiology. He is currently employed by Noven Pharmaceuticals which is located in the Empire State Building in Manhattan. Luke absolutely loves to read and write, and he enjoys using this skill to help others realize their full potential.
“Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.”- David Mamet

Dear Students,

The world has changed. We are now facing a hyper-competitive domain involving art, gifts, fear and the ability to make an indispensable contribution to something you really care about.
Yes, you have the choice to become indispensable in your future work. You have the choice to buy into the fear or, to chart your own path and create the value if you want. Every day, people like you are choosing to go down a less well-defined path, one in which they make choices, make a difference, and become indispensable.
Why is there resistance to becoming indispensable?
#1, it turns out, it is biological and has been enforced, and #2, we have been brainwashed.
Let’s look into each one a little more.
1. Deep within our brains lays the amygdala, or our primitive mind, or lizard brain. It exists to do one thing, sabotage anything that feels threatening, risky, or generous.
It prevents you from being brave enough to make a difference.
It wants you to fit in, to be average and safe.
Until you recognize and deal with this resistance, there is a good chance you will remain frustrated. Until then, you may be focused on complying with management as a long-term strategy to get more stuff and becoming more secure. Maliciously, your amygdala hates it when you read articles like this.
Unfortunately, years of school have been a source of this fear and compliance.
Because school has taught us fear. Fear of getting a D on a test, fear of not getting a job right out of school, fear of not fitting in.
More importantly, most of us do not intend to be in school forever. In few circumstances in the real world do you have to look through textbooks for answers that are already known by a supervisor (teacher) only to regurgitate those facts again in a high-pressure setting.
In the real world, if all you have to offer is that you know a lot of reference book information, you lose, because the internet knows more than you do, and everyone has the internet accessible in their hands. Strong words but true.
Teachers usually don’t want to do this, they do not want to instill fear and obedience into us, but the system often gives them no choice, and it’s the only legal way we can achieve certain positions in the working world.
To further the argument, the work of creating a positive change in the classroom is daunting, and without enough support is nearly impossible. We cannot blame teachers, but we can blame the corporate system that is still training compliant workers that score well on tests.
2. Here’s the deal our parents signed us up for: Factories, hospitals, companies, etc. need workers.
If you learn how to be one of these workers, if you pay attention in school, follow instructions, show up on time, and try hard, then you will be taken care of. You will be paid a lot of money; will receive health insurance and job security. You won’t have to be brilliant or creative or take risks.
It is a seductive giveaway.
Conversely, in today’s world, job growth is flat at best, and the educated, hardworking masses are still doing what they’re told, but are no longer getting what they deserve.
We agree to do a job in exchange for a set of instructions, something that has little value. The rules of the game have changed, and unfortunately, no one has told you yet.
You better believe that there are no longer any great jobs out there where someone else tells you precisely what to do.
How do we combat this?
How do we become indispensable?
What’s the secret?
Here is a list of things to think about that will help you become indispensable in your future work.
1. Providing a unique interface between members of the organization
2. Delivering unique creativity
3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity
4. Leading other employees and customers
5. Inspiring staff
6. Providing deep domain of knowledge for others
7. Possessing unique talent
8. Making other feel safe to be innovative
Lastly, we need to self-educate ourselves. We are not taught in class to take initiative, to become remarkable artists, to question the status quo, to lead, or to interact with transparency (we are taught the opposite).
We need to learn how to combine depth of knowledge with good judgement, how to work with our feelings, and use them to expose creativity.
We need to learn how to feel fear, acknowledge it, and then proceed forward. We need to learn how to look at failure differently, using it as feedback, rather than enhancing resistance.
We need to stand up and be remarkable, be human, contribute, interact, take the risk that might make someone upset with your initiative, innovation, and insight.
Yes, you all have the ability to do these things, but the barrier to success and being indispensable is a choice.
It is up to you.
Make the right choice, because you are a genius, and we all need your contribution for a better future.
Never Settle,

-Luke Zack