« Back to Blog

What a Haircut Taught Me About Careers

by Daniel Beadle | May 28, 2016 | [[ readEstimate ]] min read

I never really had a good haircut until last year.

It was June 2015, and after a few months without a cut, I decided to indulge myself and get it done right. I went online, and sought out the best barber in the area. Someone so good, you had to schedule an appointment, like you were going to see a doctor.

A few days later, I was sitting in the barber chair in a small storefront just outside of the city. The scrappy woman who was giving me a cut was the owner and operator of the salon. She moved with expert precision and speed, parting my hair into sections, and using a straight razor to shave off the tips.

“I’ve never seen anyone cut hair like that,” I said, after a small stint of small talk.

“Really? I always use a straight razor. Gives the hair a more natural look.” She went on to explain how razors compare with scissors and buzzers, making the hair more tapered rather than the artificial, uniform look created by the latter two. I was impressed. I suppose I was so used to bad haircuts, that I thought haircuts were always bad. That’s a sad realization, to think that a bad situation is acceptable because it’s all you know. 

But she was good. Damned good. And she knew it, too. That’s why she started her own business, after years of working for others. I asked her how she made the leap, and she said something to the effect of “it made more sense to do it than not to do it.” I liked that. I liked the idea of racking up so many reasons in the “pro” category that the “cons” seem like minor annoyances, problems waiting to be crossed off the list. But there was also this idea of finding the one thing you do better than anyone, and building a business around it. That’s what my barber did, and it’s a great thought experiment to consider what that means for the rest of us.

For many people, work and fulfillment are two different things. Many people work in order to pursue the things that make their life fulfilling. One friend of mine is a college professor, a job that gives him large blocks of time off to climb mountains. Another friend works at a marketing agency, and he refills the creative cup by making music on the weekends. In the latter case, work and fulfillment form a complimentary relationship with one another. But everyone has a passion, whether they work at it or not. And it’s that part of your life that requires consideration. So what would your life look like if your passion was your job? What if you opened a storefront, either real or virtual, and said “this is what I have to offer, because I’m so good at making it”?

Now this doesn’t mean that you need to open your own business, but it’s something to consider as you shape your career. To structure a fulfilling career, you need to understand what matters to you, and what you do well. Often times, there’s a fair amount of overlap between those two. With that as a starting point, you can craft a career deliberately, and live life intentionally.

For that bit of clarity alone, my haircut was totally worth it.