Our Career Exodus Story

Photo: pexels.com
Photo: pexels.com

As Passover is approaching, I wanted to refer back to my blog post from last year about Moses as an Entrepreneur. I honestly do believe that the Bible is maybe the most entrepreneurial book and story ever told, and is so relevant to many aspiring and struggling professionals in today’s world of work.

So, I would like to re-paraphrase the Exodus story, and connect it to what I see around me on a larger scale. If last year’s post was all about connecting the story to the pull factors of entrepreneurship, this year – I would like to connect it to the push factors of today’s world of work.

Imagine a different Exodus story

Why did Jacob (Israel) and his family go to Egypt to begin with? Because of the drought and hunger in Canaan. They were seeking refuge and survival. They stayed there, lived there, grew their children there, became a people there – and then became slaves there. But I do not think the Bible tells us that they wanted to become Egyptians, and Pharaoh was not interested in integrating them beyond slavery.

In the Biblical story, the People of Israel seek independence, and Moses is the leader who exercises that entrepreneurial aspiration, as described here. But, let’s imagine a different scenario. Imagine that the People of Israel did not suffer that much as slaves in Egypt, that Pharaoh and his people in the palace were actually pretty decent, and that Egyptians were generally welcoming and friendly… What would happen then?

From “let my people go” to “take your people and leave”

In this hypothetical situation, the relationship between Egypt and the People of Israel changes dramatically. The People of Israel do not wish to become Egyptians, they are only there out of interest. They do not aspire to take any ownership. They are not interested in sharing the responsibility and risks of “running the empire out of the land of Goshen” with Pharaoh and his people. They just want to “do their part.” Or, to put it otherwise – “It’s just a job, nothing more.”

What happens when drought and hunger comes to Egypt? What happens when the economy goes south? Eventually, there will come a time when Egypt has to change and adapt to external circumstances. Eventually, the comfort in the current relationship between the two sides will dissolve. Eventually, Pharaoh will not be able to guarantee any work and safety to the People of Israel, let alone community and cultural freedom… Eventually, Egypt will not be able to sustain them anymore.

You know what happens in such a scenario? Nothing good… In such a scenario, even the best out of all alternatives does not require any Moses to come with leadership and entrepreneurial capacities. There is no need for “Let my people go!” In such a scenario, even in the best out of all alternatives,  it’s Pharaoh that comes to the current Moses and tells him “Take your people and leave!”

Meaning, the People of Israel find themselves in the desert even without wanting to. Now, where should they go? Maybe they should find a promised land or something…

This is the difference between “pull factors” for entrepreneurship, and “push factors” for entrepreneurship.

Hacking the New World of Work: Full Keynote at Florida State University (FSU), November 2018.

 

Sounds familiar?

I believe that many employees try to convince themselves that they should not really care for the long term future of their company. “It’s just a job”… If that’s so, then they are also “just employees” for the employer, who may not be able to guarantee a meaningful and fulfilling career path for them. Not in today’s world of work…

So, what happens when we do not want to leave our comfort zone as employees, our “just a job” state-of-mind, remain cynical and apathetic to the company – and the organization changes in front of us?

The Pharaoh will tell us eventually to take our belongings and leave the land of Goshen, and we will find ourselves in the desert, looking for stability, career path, fulfillment, etc.

What does it mean?

I believe that in today’s world of work, we as individuals should aspire to “know our Why” and discover our “Shared Zone“. Otherwise, we could confuse the first oasis we stumble upon in the desert with “our promised land”, become disappointed after a while, and move on to wander as Bedouins in the desert. Some of us could get used to it. But the idea is not to assimilate in the desert – but to cross it. And so, we must transition in our minds from wanderers to navigators.

Meaning, in today’s on-demand economy, we cannot expect our mangers to take responsibility for our careers. It’s on us. And, our careers are not just a random sequence of jobs, just like randomly wandering from oasis to oasis in the desert is not a way to cross it and get to the promised land.

We must transition from an employee-customer state-of-mind to a business-owner-entrepreneur state-of-mind. In today’s world of work, we are all business units.

Happy Passover | חג פסח שמח

About the Author
Assaf is passionate about promoting business in and with Israel, helping and mentoring entrepreneurs, advising young professionals with career planning and self-fulfillment, and more. Assaf acts as a brand ambassador of Israel as 'Start-Up Nation', speaking to thousands of businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, young professionals, students and others, both in Israel and around the world. Assaf also works as a business development and marketing consultant to Israeli start-ups and others.
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