Find a Maven, Be a Maven

Key Takeaways

  • “Maven” is a Yiddish term for “one who knows.” Regardless of your faith, a maven can be a godsend for your career.
  • You’re probably going to have more than one purpose, if not career, in your life. Keep your mind open to new possibilities.
  • To reach your long-term goals, imagine your future self 20 years down the road, and look for experts/mentors who can get you there.
  • Play to your strengths and learn to relax.

About 15 years ago, a young man named Pat told me he wanted to be a radiologist, like his best friend’s father—a man who just loved medicine. While in high school Pat took jobs in a hospital. In college, he took the right pre-med curriculum. It wasn’t easy, but he eventually got into medical school, graduated and, just recently, landed an internship in radiology.

Now, what has happened here? Well, Pat found a maven—that’s Yiddish for a person who is good at doing something. Author and gerontologist Karl Pillemer recently wrote that young college graduates often ask themselves if they need a purpose in life. An 87-year-old woman who was interviewed for the article said, “You’re probably going to have multiple purposes in life. It’s okay. Don’t get stuck on just one way and one purpose because that’s not the way it’s going to be.” In other words, keep your mind open for anything that comes into your range of vision.

Pillemer also wrote about interviewing your future self. It’s great advice. Imagine yourself 20 years from now, and think about how you’re going to get there. Pat, the young man I mentioned above, did just that. He found an expert in the medical field he wanted to enter. And you can do the same by finding a maven in whichever field or profession you’re considering. Then lead with your strengths.

Forget the notion that school teaches us how to strengthen our weaknesses. In reality, your weaknesses are going to be your weaknesses until the day you die. You can’t do much to improve them. But leading with your strengths will take you to the places you want to go. Finally, you need to relax, as the elders in Pillemer’s article advised. That’s hard for many high-striving people to do, but relaxing is really important for letting things come to you. There are two important takeaways from this post:

  1. Find a maven. If you’re a young person, find someone who can help you get to your career goals faster than you could on your own and on a track that makes sense for you.
  2. Be a maven. If you’re older, consider being a maven for a younger person. It’s a great purpose to have later on in life. I was fortunate to have mavens each time I changed careers and it made a huge difference.

Until next time, enjoy.

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