Every human being needs a craft, not just a job or career, but a craft. A craft is a calling, a meaning in life, a burning passion deep within your spirit: a craft is your skill and trade. Many people mistake a career for a craft; they assume that a job with advancement is their life’s calling and they take their career for their life’s purpose; however, a craft is the actual skill you develop throughout your life. Your craft is your knowledge and skill and you can take it with you no matter where you go. For example: a job is mowing grass for the summer; a career is working as an upper level manager in a large landscaping business; your craft is lawn care (if you truly love lawn care and constantly seek to learn and improve). Knowing the difference between a job, a career, and a craft can save you a ton of heartache later on in life.
A job tends to be something we do as a means to an end; a job is a commitment to make money, and its usually something we don’t enjoy very much; a job usually looks like a dead end, but it can be used as a stepping stone to gain experience or fund a career or craft. Jobs can go nowhere, or we can use them as a step to reach a higher point of achievement. You will need money to survive in the world, so a job can be a stepping stone or a ball and chain, it all depends on what you make it into.
A career is usually a lot like a job, but it offers opportunity for advancement and growth. Careers are usually created by people who want more, work hard, and try to improve themselves. Sometimes jobs turn into careers through planning or hard work; careers often look like a tunnel that stretches on forever. With a career we usually have a good idea that we enjoy this work (maybe even love it), and we can see the possibility of forward progression before us, yet we have to stay within the confines of the career opportunities. Often, the end of the career tunnel is retirement, and our life only truly begins at the end of the career.
A craft is a deep, focused, and burning desire to learn a skill. Crafts don’t provide you with money directly; however, the knowledge you gain while trying to master a craft is very valuable. Many people look to experts in their craft to teach them how to become better at these skills. Someone who masters a craft will often find themselves as the subject of acclaim and criticism. Masters of crafts are often business owners, leaders, icons, politicians, and educators. A craft looks a lot like a beach on the ocean: it is endless in complexity and you can advance forward or in any other direction; possibility exists as far as the eye can see, no matter where you look to. The beach is your starting point; the horizon is your life; your craft is your boat and it can carry you into any direction your eyes can see.
So to sum up, a job is a dead end or staircase to a career; a career is a tunnel: you can progress forward but your progression is linear in one direction; a craft is endless possibility, because your progress is internal growth and experience: you can take your skill with you and do anything you can imagine.
It is important to know that finding a craft, or turning your career or job into a craft is a highly rewarding undertaking. When you set out to master a set of skills (a craft) you learn valuable lessons and knowledge that never leave you. If you work at McDonald’s as a burger boy the only skill you learn is being a burger boy; however, a highly ambitious burger boy could ask managers questions, dissect his role, and learn and set out to improve efficiency at work. If the burger boy sticks with it long enough- and continually seeks improvement -he will eventually move into management and the skills he learned will help him delegate and make better management decisions. If a burger joint manager sticks with management and continues to improve and learn as much as he can about burger making, he will eventually become a master manager; he will learn about the burger making process, financials, delegation, schedule making, cleaning, and maintenance. No matter what happens to our manager man, he has learned valuable skills and gained valuable experience that become a part of him. His knowledge of the process of making burgers even enables him to start his own burger business in the future if thats what he desires. Through devotion to personal progression and mastery of a craft, a 16 year old kid making burgers can eventually become the owner of the next big burger chain.
A job pays your bills; a career gives you money and room for advancement in your company. A craft is the knowledge, experience, and the skills that always stay a part of you. You can use jobs or careers as opportunities to hone your skills if you live with purpose and intent, and once you have mastered a craft, you can plan your own path in life.
So my advice is this, find something you love, learn everything you can about it (read books, practice, read articles), ask questions, and get as much experience as possible and master what you love. After that, the sky’s the limit: you can start your own business, you can mentor and teach others, you can work high up in other companies. As you master your craft, start mastering yourself: improve any and all of the skills that will make you better at your craft; if you want to be a business owner: study marketing, study interpersonal relationships and communication, become a better speaker, read about business theory and how to balance budgets and make profits. Whatever you are doing in life, find what you love and go after it as if your life depends on it. After all, you have to spend your life doing something to pay the bills, it might as well be something you love.