Sometimes the most unexpected conversations come from the least expected situations.
Last night I shared a taxi ride home with a colleague and the discussion of education arose. He is a recent graduate with a mechanical engineering degree, thinking of pursuing a masters in IT.
Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, our taxi cab driver perks up and says to him, "if you don't pursue that degree, you are stupid." ... Did he really just say that?
"Five months ago I knew absolutely nothing about IT," he goes on to say, "until someone I drove said 'hey, you can make so much more doing IT than what you are doing now' - that really woke me up. Now, I am on my way to finishing an IT degree and becoming a consultant."
One thing that stuck out to me was what he said next: "Where I am sitting, it is a better seat than where you are sitting."
After careful consideration I did agree with him. My coworker will not ever use the skills that he learned in school at this particular position he's in, but he also isn't using the skills outside work. And when I think honestly about it, neither am I.
That night I met a man who drives a taxi twelve hours a day, supporting a wife and child, spends six hours a day studying, and getting enough sleep to keep him going each day. He is hustling because he knows his end goal.
After dropping me off he says, "I have five years on you. It's never too late to do what you want, just do it. Stop talking about doing it and actually do it. (He didn't say it exactly like that, but I could tell that's what he wanted to say). I told your friend 'he's stupid' because hopefully I caused him to think the same way that person made me think, and then act."
He's definitely right.
How many times do we want to hear the truth, instead of hearing what we want to hear? We really do need a kick in the pants sometimes. I know it made me think of my plan for the next five years. I know what's stopping me, it's not putting in the time or dedication during my free time. How am I refining my skills, improving, learning, exploring, discovering?
It's surprising that after thinking of how many cabbies I've had small talk with, this is the first time that I ever remember having a real talk with. Of course I'm not going into IT, it doesn't interest me in the least (except for the money - I could make it RAIN!), but it does reinforce my interests in communications and branding. It does motivate me to do better and be better. To push myself and compete with myself each day.
I thank this driver for being so candid with us. I wouldn't mind riding with him again.