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Re-finding the Profession

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[Editor’s note: I get loads of email from random people asking if I know such-and-such a story, and 99% of the time the answer is no. However, a while ago I was able to help one person find what she was looking for – hooray! After she told me her story I thought it was pretty cool as asked her if we could post it here. This is Suzanne’s story about her long search for a barely remembered science fiction short story, and how it impacted her life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! -Rusty]

Be sure to have read Profession by Asimov

I came across in one of my quests to find a story that had originally inspired me as a child. A little more about the story in a moment, but first some background to put the request into context.

I’m a coach, trainer and newbie author (non-fiction) based in the UK. I’ve had a circuitous route to get to where I am now – I’ve studied therapy, I’ve got a Master’s degree in Positive Psychology. I’ve trained and coached thousands of people in the corporate world before going independent. It’s taken me a while to get to where I am. I quit school at 16 and drove a fork lift truck in a builder’s merchants – not a typical job for a girl!

For many years I worked for IBM, early in my career I had a technical role in IT. After a stint managing a department, I had the opportunity to move into a role within Learning and Development. Coaching and training was my passion, but many mentors, managers and colleagues warned me that it was “career suicide”. I didn’t really fit into the technical role. I half remembered a sci-fi story I’d read as a child. ‘Knowing’ that it’s OK not to fit in gave me some sort of permission to do what I wanted, to know that I didn’t have to follow the “standard programme” as laid out by others.

I then studied psychotherapy for 3 years …. I started working with clients who weren’t who I wanted to be working with. I stopped, or as I like to think, I ‘paused’ before the end of the course – perhaps you might describe me as a ‘quitter’, or maybe the ‘pure’ path just wasn’t for me. I kept the story of the sci-fi protagonist in my mind. Half remembered. The story I remembered of his plight kept me going.

I have a belief that people who are successful in life, have a strong positive impact on society. It is these people that I enjoy working with. These people too often don’t quite fit in to the mould either.

I remember being quite an avid reader as a child. I read a lot of science fiction. The particular story that bubbled away in the back of my mind was a story about a boy who couldn’t be educated by traditional methods. Without this wanting to be a ‘spoiler’, let’s just say it all works out for him in the end. The story has ‘kept me going’ when I found that I didn’t quite fit in, or didn’t “get” things as quickly as others. The story has been in the back of my mind for years.

A couple of years ago I started to look ‘seriously’ for the story – I wanted to find it, to refer to it when people asked. My quest to find it wasn’t helped by the fact that I was convinced it was a short story by John Wyndham. I found later that it’s not by him, and unsurprisingly whilst I was convinced it was him, I couldn’t find it. I’m not sure how, but I came across this site and started looking – something caught my eye – I wondered if it could be Ray Bradbury, a prolific short story author – I remembered reading a lot of his work too. I scanned and scanned – wow – there’s loads on the site! I decided to ask. I sent an email … not much to go on:

As a child I read an amazingly inspirational short story about people who don’t fit in. Most people got “programmed” and there were these others who didn’t.
Not much to go on, I appreciate. For many years I’ve attributed it to John Wyndham – but I wonder if it was Ray Bradbury. Do you know it? Can you point me
to it?

Within hours my quest was over with this response:

I am not 100% sure, but the story you are describing sounds a little bit like “Profession” by Isaac Asimov. You can read my summary of that story here:

Yes! I was pretty sure that would be it, for one because my dad’s a huge Asimov fan, and as a kid I would have read his books. I looked at the Wikipedia plot summary: definitely “it”. My 20 year quest was over, with MASSIVE thanks to Rusty!

About Suzanne Hazelton

Suzanne Hazelton works with individuals and organisations enabling them to THRIVE! She is a coach, speaker, trainer and author based in the UK.

Her first book Raise your Game is available on Amazon –
Or take a look at her blog:

3 thoughts to “Re-finding the Profession”

  1. Thank you for linking to the story! I really must catch up on Asimov’s works soon…He is indeed a brilliant writer, simply enthralling.

    Also, congratulations on finishing your decades-long quest for this story. It’s those little accomplishments in life that make life amazing.

    I wish more people took the time to read, or had more time to read (Time Enough at Last, yes?).

    Anyways, I just wanted to let you guys know that I really appreciate this site and all the work you do. Oh, and there are lots of stories I wanted to comment on, but I think they were too old or something so I couldn’t comment. Aside from that, thank you for gathering all these stories, reviews, and links together! I would pungle to this site, but unfortunately I have no means of income yet.

    [I apologize for the lack of coherency, since it is slightly late at night for me.]

  2. @SL – thanks for you comments, I really appreciate them. I am glad you like our site, and about the comments: we get so very many spam comments that I have set the comment sections to close after the article has been posted for 2 weeks. Sorry about that, but it was the only way we could keep up! Feel free to comment on recent articles though.

  3. @SL thank you for taking the time to comment! Yes, these small things, like re-finding this story make life amazing!
    @Rusty – thank you again for your help in finding the story and your encouragement to write this blog 🙂

Comments are closed.