Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘work’

Social Media and Manufactured Importance

Got any of this–manufactured importance– in your life? Not sure? Of course you’re not sure. It’s likely that YOU are the one who manufactured whatever it is in the first place.

We have a massive social media initiative at my day job. Lots and lots of positive feedback from others in my industry (who are too far away to compete with us), and yet that’s all it’s been…compliments. ROI, meh, not so much. And yet there it is, an enormous sink hole of time, and more importantly MY time. But is it really important?

Where are your stress points? Who put them there? Who is rating their importance? How real is that importance? Tough questions, whether you have ultimate control over the majority of your choices and your time or not. I kinda do. Have control, that is. Yet it was pointed out to me what an inordinate amount of time and angst, how much importance, has grown up around this SM thing. The program is an outgrowth of our continual need to grow, sure, but is this the program that will allow us to achieve our goals More importantly, is it really important enough for us and to me for me to personally carry the load?

Not sure, but the the “ah HA” moment when the concept of “manufactured” rather than essential, integral, irreducible and ineluctable, was applied. I’m gonna think a (short) bit on this i the office today; if it’s real I should be able to make the call between lunch and quitting time. It’s a great exercise, a great filter to apply to the “important” (non-family) aspects of a life.

Whadday think? Looking at the time sinks in your life, how important are they and is that importance real?

 

Earn It.

“Enjoy the weekend off; you deserve it.” How many times have you heard something like that? “They need to give you X; you deserve it.” Statements like that confuse me. What does it mean to deserve something? In a roomful of people how does one determine who deserves what? “He got what he deserved.” Says who?

I like accuracy in my language, at least when considering prose as opposed to poetry or koan. The concept of earning something is much more comfortable for me, much easier for me to get my head around. Whereas there’s a real sense of entitlement in the concept of “deserve”, coupled with a whiff of helplessness in that one must be granted the state of deserving by another, to earn something is a little more like math. 2 + 2 = 4. If you do this you have earned that. This week I earned my days off by doing well at my day job, leaving few to no loose ends that required weekend tying. I earned my keep, if you will, earned the ability to take 2 days away from what provides me income. At every encounter along the way I worked to the best of my ability to earn the respect and trust of those who purchase my particular skill.

Do I deserve any of that? Well, that’s where the idea of entitlement comes in, hand in hand with the subservience inherent in the fact that someone else gets to make that call. If you ask me, not only did I deserve all of that, but there should have been more! What I did should have earned me more of all of that. There’s a fine line between “deserve” and “earn” it turns out, even for one such as I who understands the difference. In certain circumstances the hand of others, seen or unseen, pulls on strings that determine whether you do, indeed, receive that which you have earned.

As Scar so famously said: “Life’s not fairrrrrrr.”

There’s the rub. Fairness. Is what you’ve earned fair? It’s maddening, isn’t it? Even if you foreswear all sense of deserving this or that in favor of earning whatever you are still at risk of falling for the fairness trap. The reality as far as I can see is that, on balance, we all get pretty much both what we’ve earned and what we deserve; it kinda all evens out in the end. What makes it difficult is that at any one time there may be a disconnect in one particular place where you think you’ve earned it–whatever it might be–and yet it’s not coming your way. No way around it, that’s really hard. Unfair, even.

The lesson here, I think, is that pretty much everything in life is to be earned. Food, shelter, clothing. Respect. Trust. We have within us only the ability to go about our best in order to earn any and all of these. To put it another way, our best good-faith effort is all we have to contribute to the equation; acknowledging that it is on us to earn these things is in itself a demonstration of good faith, a repudiation of entitlement, and a clear statement to all that what we receive in the end cannot be justified by some outside agent declaring that “we got what we deserved.”

We deserve to be loved. Everything else we deserve only the opportunity to earn.

 

The Value of Work

All work has value. Well, all legal work of course. Every job has value. There is a certain dignity that can be found in every job. Mop the floors? Someone’s gotta do it, and the rest of us should be thankful that someone did it. Digging up coal? Man, that’s a dangerous job. I think I read that 90% of Ohio’s electricity comes from coal. I’m warm today because someone went deep and came up with that coal.

Heck, even used car salesmen perform a job that has value. Seriously.

More to the point, especially at this time of year, is the value that is conferred on the person who has the job. Almost any job. You’ve got a reason to get up in the morning (or evening if you work graveyard). You have folks you are responsible for, and you are taking care of them. You are taking care of yourself. Taking responsibility. FWIW I would go to work on Wednesday if I had the magic lottery ticket on Tuesday.

In the Great Depression what everyone asked for was a job. Will work for food. I truly believe that this is still true for the most part today. People feel deep down that they need to work. When they have a job by and large most people work as hard as they can to do a good job. I live and work in the second most highly regulated industry in the U.S. (bonus points for knowing the first), and my income has been halved over the last 10 years or so. I still go to work, though, and I still work for the people who “buy” my services just as hard and in the same good faith that I did 10, 15, 20 years ago.

That’s my job.

Which brings me to the point: if you have a job for Heaven’s sake do your best. Work hard. If someone has given you a job work hard for her. Don’t’ let any resentments interfere with doing your best work. Everyone is underpaid; your boss thinks he’s underpaid, too. It may or may not be true, but when you are on the job it doesn’t matter. When you are at work is not the time to harbor or act on anything other than the job at hand. If you work for someone, WORK for him. Do whatever it takes to do the work well, to get the job done.

It’s not just that you owe it to her, you owe it to yourself.

 

Pursuit Is Just Another Word For Work

It’s all about jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Jobs and work. There aren’t enough jobs out there. People have stopped looking for jobs. Unemployment is going up and up, and even those numbers don’t tell the story because hundreds of thousands of people have just given up the search.

But wait, there’s another side to the coin. It seems that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs out there, but businesses can’t find people with the skills, or even the desire to learn the skills necessary to fill those jobs. Gone is the willingness to take an entry-level job of whatever sort at whatever pay in order to start the journey to “get ahead”. Some would go so far as to say that NOT taking that low-pay starter job is a rational decision. The cumulative value of various and sundry government programs add up to a “salary” that far exceeds most entry level jobs, benefits which would go away if one took such a position.

So which is it? Come on…you can’t have it both ways now. Either there are no jobs, employers are withholding jobs to avoid this or that (Obamacare, yadda yadda), or employable adults are simply unwilling to work. Which is it? Are there no jobs, or has there been a paradigm shift in the collective sense of what it is that must be present in a job before it is worth taking?

I call BS on the no jobs thing. There are jobs out there to be had. Good jobs. Jobs that will add up to $20, $30, $40 or more per hour jobs. The problem with all of those jobs, and the reason that employers are having a tough time filling them is two-fold: you don’t start at $20, $30, or $40 per hour, and in order to have those jobs you have to do actual work. It’s Life, Liberty, and the PURSUIT of Happiness, not Happiness.

Pursuit is another word for work.

Say what you will about government policies that discourage hiring (30 hour work week = full time, mandatory provision of health “insurance” for companies with >50 employees), gnash as many teeth as you please about the inability to house a family on a single minimum wage income (what household has only one worker now, anyhow?), mount as much hew and cry all you wish about income disparity, in the end it all comes down to a very simple, very common denominator: in order to have a job you must be willing to go to work.

All work has value; there is honor is any job. That is not to say that all jobs and all work are equal, or have equal value, or even that there is any justice in the valuation of one job relative to another (why is someone who sells municipal bonds a millionaire while the plumber who drains the basement that was supposed to be kept dry by the pipes purchased with those bonds is not?). No, the point is that having a job, going to work, doing the work has an intrinsic value in and of itself, and that all jobs intersect in society in order that society can function, much like the 11 men on a football team must each do his job in order to move the ball down field.

It’s been offered many times by many people that the best social program for a society is a job. The job you start with, or the job you may have at the moment is not necessarily the job you want to end up with, but each job provides you with a sense of participating, of producing, of contributing, while at the same time perhaps providing a stepping stone to something better. The “Pursuit” in Pursuit of Happiness.

To land and then to keep a job is really not all that difficult. I worked for others as a younger man, and for some 25 years now I have been an employer. Really, as someone who gives people a job I’m here to tell you it’s not that tough to get one. You need three things, only, to get a job. You must WANT a job. Once you have a job must be willing to DO the job, to work hard. You must have integrity–you must be honest.

Seriously, that’s all it takes.

Ideally you would add a fourth component; you would be ambitious. People who have jobs to fill also have businesses to grow, and growing businesses have room for ambitious workers to grow into much larger jobs. Hard workers who are honest, who put in an honest day’s work who have any ambition whatsoever move up, either with the company that gave them that first job or with another company that is competing for the skills they acquired because they took that “entry-level” job. The new managing editor of Time Magazine started there in a sub-minimum wage job as a fact-checker. She is the epitome of the axiom that all you need is a foot in the door and the willingness to work hard.

Sure, sure, I know, it’s not always that cut and dried, and people get rooked, and bad stuff happens. I know. That’s life. Life happens. Life can be hard. In life, though, the reality is that rarely, if ever, is anything handed to you. You earn it. You don’t sit back because something unfortunate might happen because the odds are really stacked in your favor that they won’t, go against you that is, if you simply go out and demonstrate your willingness to get a job, even an entry-level job, work hard, and be honest. The work/life balance thing is all well and good, as long as you remember that work is part of the equation, too.

Indeed, it comes first.

 

Live to Work/Work to Live

The topic of “live to work vs. work to live” has been on the table in one form or another in our house for weeks now.  It’s a moving target for sure. What does it mean at 50+? How has the conversation changed now that Beth and I are living “Empty Nesters 2.0″? The inexorable, constant change that has been forced down the throats of physicians since January of 2009 has totally upended how I feel about my job. Since Beth is now intimately involved in my business she has been drawn into this part of the conversation.

Why? Well, how many folks do you know who have managed to fold together their vocation and their avocation? Their employment and their passion? How many people do you know who give the same answer to the questions “What do you do for a living?” and “What is your hobby?” Not many, eh? In the world of my day job I can name exactly two. Cleveland has been good to me, but the fact remains that I moved to Cleveland solely for the job.

Cleveland has neither ocean nor mountain.

Not every gig is like this of course. It’s quite a bit different in the CrossFit world, for example. One of my very good friends, met through CrossFit, is an attorney who openly calls his day job his dream. You guessed it…he’s CF’s corporate counsel. Work and passion, vocation and avocation all wrapped up into one whole. No real “live to work or work to live” stuff for him, or indeed for most of the 7500+ Affiliate owners like my sons. I’m not entirely sure if they, or Coach Glassman, truly appreciate how monumental this is. I know my friend Dale does.

For the rest of us, though, we must sit down and have a little chat with ourselves. Is there something that makes us truly happy? Is there a place where we have a greater likelihood of achieving that happiness, some locale where it might be more easily attained? Sure, there might be additional responsibilities we must shoulder (support a family, repay an obligation) that complicate the conversation, but that still leaves room for each of us to LIVE. Could you do whatever that is? Could you move wherever “there” is? All of the folks I’ve met in Key West or Park City or San Diego who work at however many whatevers it takes in order to fish, ride, or surf come to mind.

How about me? How am I doing with this work/live thing? Actually, I’m doing better now than at many other points in my life despite the fact that my new business reality is a somewhat lesser version of past realities. I’m really good at what I do, and I accept and fulfill the responsibility of continuing to improve; the people for whom I work, my patients, fare better now than ever before.

But more and more what I do for work is just that…work. My day job is what allows me to do the stuff that is probably a truer indication of who I am, of what makes me tick. I live as fully as I possibly can when I am at work; I’m good at what I do and it’s easier to enjoy something when you do it well. But I work to live. I’m ever at the process of figuring out just what living means.

Must it be thus? Is it somehow my destiny to not share the lives of those for whom live to work is synonymous with work to live? Meh, I dunno. It takes a certain type of courage to make that leap sometimes, whether that leap is to jump back in or jump all the way out.  I have a friend who lives in Del Mar who once asked me “when are you going to leave that dead end job and work with me?” I clearly didn’t have the courage at the time to fully explore that. Now? Who knows? The courageous decision might be just staying where I am, jumping back “in” as it were.

In the end, though, I think it’s important to sit yourself down and have that conversation with yourself. Working to live, or living to work? It’s especially important if who you are and what you do are not both found where you work.

Think of it not so much as a work in progress, but more as a life in progress.