Thursday, September 21, 2006

Six F words

A few years ago, a wise man was giving me some career advice. He gave me a list of six F words: fun, family, fame, fortune, freedom, and force. In life, one can only have two of them. For example, college professors (except for ones trying to get tenured at top universities) take family and freedom. Artist takes fun and freedom. Politicians take fame and force. People who do startups take fortune and fame at a very high risk and maybe some fun until the money starts to run out.

I think it's a good way to frame things. Once you know what you want, it's easy to pick a career or a lifestyle. But if you're not honest, life will seem like a square room with a rectangular rug. It will never feel right.

Another good advice is to do something at the intersection of what you enjoy, what you're good at, and what's useful in the world. Otherwise, you will hate your work, suck at it, or not find a job. People who want to be artists always struggle with this. The world needs very few of them. So most of them struggle with the last two.


Blogger Norman Blogster said...

Thanks - in 6 F words, I think you've just persuaded me to quit my job, leave my career and figure out exactly what I should be doing with my life!

6:03 AM  
Blogger Anon said...


Really cool concept that I hadn't heard before. Interesting to think that if you are a popular celebrity, fame and fortune, you wouldn't have any fun at all. I am wondering what kind of people have freedom and force, maybe dictators or monarchs? Thanks for that, your post jolted my brain into gear on what otherwise would have been a pretty dull morning.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Jenna Wood said...

I can tell you what I want: family and fotune. But how can you have both? For me it always seems I can have one or the other, but not both. made me think.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Jenna Wood said...

OK, I meant fortune not fotune. I appologize for the one handed typing, the baby's on my lap.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Reza, great thought provoking post and a gem amidst very different topics in my rss reader today.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Loretta said...

That was interesting, thank you. I can think of another f word, though!

8:38 PM  
Blogger OhPunk! said...

Laugh - nice post! All I thought about when I read the title were bad things. Go figure!

** Shaun **
My awesome blog:


10:14 PM  
Blogger Mark Drury said...

I might round out your list with a seventh word, forbearance, for those who are self-actualized through self-effacing good works, abstinence, poverty, chastity, simplicity, or what have you -- for the nuns, monks, rustics, Thoreauvians, and others who measure a meaningful life in terms other than the six nouns you mention. Of course, the intersection of that group and those who read blogs is the empty set, so back to fortune it is, brothers and sisters.

-- Mark D. (

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some months I have been thinking about something like this and I got in a big problem!

Family, Fun and Freedom is not something I am interested in giving up, but this would make me die hungry.

So I pass almost a year completely miserable because I couldn’t find a scenario where I could have all this AND money.

So this is my conclusion, and guys, it really put it together:
-Freedom is something you can always have in several levels, it's just the way you make things around you.
-Fun depends only and exclusively if you like what you are doing, so I had no much choice beside finding something different to do. Not found yet!
-Family is not something only dependent of you, if everybody help things start working better.
-Fortune (the money problem), well, I married some one that makes as much money as I do, so together we have enough to live better!

I believe you are not really bounded to only two of this, it just need some extra work and extra determination. And more important, keep fighting the good fight, never give up!

7:17 AM  
Blogger Phenomenal said...

Good concept. You see, right now I am a software developer and have fortune and freedom. I want family and freedom. Fortune, I have found, is an empty thing to attain to, for without something else of meaning, it is useless. I have to disagree with you statement "People who want to be artists always struggle with this. The world needs very few of them." The reason artists struggle is because we live in a left-brained society. Artists (except for musicians, perhaps) are usually right-brained, extremely creative people. We don't value this king of thinking as much as the dry, logical thinking of this technological era. Without them, the world would be a vacuous, uninteresting place to live in. Just imagine a website with no cool graphics or's the same thing. We need LOTS of artists. However, just like with grade school teachers, our society refuses them the compensation they deserve. Desptite this, artists continue to flourish. Many artists work one job and produce there art on the side; their art may suffer but it pays the bills.

3:07 PM  
Blogger quamtotius said...


It is a good concept. However, perhaps not generally applicable. I started up a company but did not look for fame.
I was aiming for fun, freedom and fortune when I started up my company. (Got the first two and the third is coming slowly).
So maybe not only the 2 F's are different for all people but also what they apply to ?

4:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

not always true though. but a good start.

12:47 PM  
Blogger woran said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:05 PM  
Blogger woran said...

Hi there, this blog looks good and we share interests, I also share your opinions on the various matters that you put forward. I think you would like my blog.

It is

PS. PLease leave a comment :)

6:06 PM  
Blogger woran said...

Hi there, this blog looks good and we share interests, I also share your opinions on the various matters that you put forward. I think you would like my blog.

It is

PS. PLease leave a comment :)

6:08 PM  
Blogger Ben Myers said...

Are force and freedom not intimately bound?

12:28 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Reza ~ Your blog is fascinating and fun! It seems you are a true citizen of the world.

1:33 PM  
Blogger ancient clown said...

I've always followed the philosophy, do what you love for free and the world will not only pay you, but you'll never work a day in your lfe.
As for your last comment, I think I disagree with you,(politely that is). I would hope you understand that EVERYONE is an artist seeking their medium, and ALL are musicians searching for their instrument.
ART & MUSIC and within us ALL, as we are beings of 7 senses.
7 notes(cdefgab)
7 colors(roygbiv)
7 senses(Intuition 6-th & Empathy-7th)
If you don't believe me come to my site and learn how to make a tree.
"To give a person a tree is to give them a present...but to teach a person how to make a tree is to give them a gift for life."
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

3:48 AM  
Blogger Sheena said...

The F words made sense to me immediately but after thinking about them I can't entirely agree that you can only have two. I am wondering too if there are any two that seldom go together ...

3:21 PM  
Blogger andra said...

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1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'll take fame and freedom. And maybe some force - just enough to erase all blog comment spam.

9:18 PM  
Blogger clearthought said...

Nice; sounds inspiring... like the stuff you hear from personal gurus (or life trainers, etc.).

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree w/ Reza's wise man. You have to choose what you want to do in life because there's a time limit in which to accomplish these things. For example, most ballerinas had to know at an early age that being a ballerina was essential to their being. People simply don't go to ballet school at age 30 and expect to "make it" in the world of ballet.

As a music conductor at a major university told me: "You get to do one thing in life really well." It's always a contest between quality and quantity. Maybe if you have very low expectations, you will think you have everything.

Also I find the idea that everyone can be an artist silly. A person can't just pick up a violin and be an instant prodigy. Even if a person practices for years, they may never be any good at what they do because they have some unfortunate permanent flaw. It's happens all the time. People attend expensive and compeititive music conservatories just to discover that they will only be a teacher for the rest of their life because they lack the talent to be a performer.

The arts are just as unforgiving as "left-brain" activities, but as one poster pointed out our world considers "right-brain" people to be handicapped or at least a waste of resources. It's why artists are poor. Therefore, artists have to choose a life of freedom and fun (to them) versus other professions that pay more. Freedom depends greatly on responsibility. James Joyce fled Ireland and led an alternative life style in the name of freedom. If he hadn't, it's doubtful he would have wrote Ulysses.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it s so important know who you are and what you really want in life..most people don t know both..or think they know but they dont

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really enjoyed reading your post, i found it to be greatly helpfull. thank you and comliments. I ll be back on your blod to read more.

3:32 PM  
Blogger san said...

nice concept

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your post is really interesting, i will talk about the same concept in my blog as well!

8:07 PM  

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