Life And How To Survive It

“Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable” Adrian Tan

Adrian Tan gave a great convocation speech at Nayang Technological University in Singapore in 2008. He’s an author and lawyer from Singapore.

Here’s the video of his talk, his speech starts at 4 minutes 15 seconds in.

Life And How To Survive It Adrian Tan Convocation Speech at Nayang Technological University in Singapore

Mr Wang Says So has the full text of Adrian Tan’s speech

Here’s a few quotes I like.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.
Work kills. … If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are ‘making a living’. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan ‘Arbeit macht frei’ was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.
Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

People who are very happy quite often seem to be doing what they love to do vs a job that pays the bills.

They may not love 100% of every part of the job, who does? But they do seem to love most of it. It’s not always easy to find something that you love to do and that you’re adding enough value to others in doing it that you get paid for it.

But it’s worth the time, energy and effort to find that something. You get a better quality of life and you become a positive influence on the people around you.

If you have adult ADHD, that may mean you’ll be more likely to create your own job as an entrepreneur, become a freelancer or have multiple jobs so you’re not bored. While there are many negatives to having adult ADHD there are also positives of having adult ADHD too

It’s important for everyone to find work they love but its even more crucial for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. For us the wrong job can be more than a numbing grind, it can be absolute hell. And the right job can become heaven, especially compared to other jobs where we’ve worked doing things we didn’t enjoy and/or for people we didn’t like.



1 thought on “Life And How To Survive It”

  1. Pursuit of Focus

    Great post! Finding the perfect balance between doing something I love and doing something I can make a living in is a challenge.

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