Demands on the Worker
We are led to believe that we can have it all. That does help you forget that to do great things that you have to live in a world of tradeoffs. As Elon Musk stated, “Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours per week…People need to work around 80 to 100 hours per week to change the world.” The hours of effort are negligible. The intent is that to accomplish something great, the effort takes over most of your time and passion. It is all consuming.
At some point the belief has risen that we can have it all. That you can be an industry leader, a dotting partner, and engaged parent, it is all just a matter of great time management. This is fairy tale bullshit.
These beliefs may come from hyped up by puff pieces in biographical profiles leaving the reader to believe that they have it all. I believe that they have the overarching goal to make you feel bad about not being able to reach unrealistic expectations. The real point is to find the right passion for you and to achieve the life balance of what you can be proud of at the end of the day.
Most of your parents pushed you to shoot for the stars to be the most that you could be. Few aimed their kids to hover around entry level or to strive for middle management at best. These expectations of making it to the top at work weigh heavy on the 99% that never make to the top.
This brings to light that the fight to get to the top is all working for someone else and having them validate your existence. This lives a life of servitude where the ones that serve the best raise the highest. In the end, the organization is not yours and you will always be working for someone else.
The organization does not care for you or your well being outside of how it impacts the company. Years of working late and missing family events will get you bonus points at the altar of the corporate ascent, but don’t be mistaken a sacrifice must be offered.
A corporation does know that employee satisfaction eventually leads to better performance. The company typically just gives lip service and will sacrifice those totems of satisfaction when costs need cutting. By nature, a corporation will never take care of all your needs.
However, it is a good thing that a corporation not in control of your entire life. Your place of business already controls if you can see the doctor or not, if you can make rent, or if you can put food on your table for dinner. You do not also want to acquiesce to your employer your dreams, aspirations, and self-worth.
Some off you reading this book are just biding your time. You are not working in your passion area and just standing by waiting for something better to come along. While you find little or no meaning at work, your company and boss more than likely don’t care as long as your work is done at the end of the day.
At certain points in our careers, we struggle to be competent and then fight to become good. Work is fun when you lean into your strengths. Mastering a skill builds confidence and gives a level of satisfaction to be known for a skill.
This is hardwired into our DNA. We even have adopted the names for the skills that our forefathers mastered. The Masons, Archers, Knights, Carpenters, etcetera. We have changed our model from falling in line with our generational specialties, but that same level of pride comes from becoming a master craftsman.
I’m not sure we get that same opportunity today. We get stuck doing mindless tasks without an ability to become a craftsman. I fear that most of the workforce has become white-collar factory workers repeating the same task over and over again.
Even if we continuously produce low value products, we find ourselves always on. No longer secluded to the office but work follows you home now. With this spread of time extending more hours, we just pack on more things to do and cannot escape from being in a constant rush. A perpetual need to be available and respond to never-ending notifications. Technology designed to make us more efficient has created a day of constant churn.
With the expansion of technology, our expectations have grown as well. We all want to be involved parents and give our children healthy upbringings. To be there for all their special events and routine days as well. We leave work early to go to their little league games. Then we spend the entire time in the stands working on e-mail because of a so-called crisis that must be resolved immediately.
If we look at parenting in the 1980’s or earlier generations, we were okay with our parents being present some of the time but not all the time. They also didn’t have devices pulling their attention away. Technology was supposed to make us more efficient, but it’s just made us work more and less engaged in the present.
Some companies have moved to compress and shorten their working hours. Opting for a four-day work week or six-hour workday. However, the output expectations remained the same in many cases leading to more stressed-out employees trying to accomplish the same or more work in less time.
They’ve missed the point of still doing too much or still spending too much time on the unimportant. This comes back to priorities of individual contributors and managers inability to determine value or not. Still trapping people in meetings where they may be needed. The disgruntled professional looks back and sees how much time is wasted each day.
We don’t just want to meet expectations but exceed them. Unfortunately, the model is set for trying to fill all expectations and being left feeling disappointed, tired, stressed, and rushed. It is not how you want to live or how to become a top performer. It is not the model for living a great life
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