Friday, December 9, 2016

Work to Live or Live to Work

I remember my Grandfather Well's wisdom when he said: "You either Work to Live or Live to Work".  He said this as he was asking me also about my hobbies recognizing that my work-aholic  tendencies may have over emphasized the Live to Work part.  He also said: "Without hobbies, interests and other relationships..... the day you retire is the day you start to die."

I just finished reading Barry Schwartz's Ted Original book (from the TED Talk series) titled "Why We Work".  The question seems simple yet the answer is embedded in a complex weave of our human nature, institutional and governmental systems, motivations, and yes.... moral sentiments with the haunting of life's purpose.

I always felt that attitude was 80% of the solution.  Even life's worst job, with the right attitude, can be fulfilling - as Schwartz says "who they are, not what the work is".  I even remember at Accenture when the Functional Head of the Human Resource consulting practice shocked me with the HR principal that money (and incentives) will not create sustainable employee job satisfaction -  substantiated by significant surveys and psychological data.

Schwartz postulates that our ideas and/or ideology (which may be false truths) about why we work may "bear a large measure of the responsibility for the nature of our work".  I grew up in a billable hour mindset (consulting fees) and as such started putting a price on time - an evening with friends has "costs".  My obsession with studying time and money may have grow out of this very mindset.

So there is some danger in false ideology - meaning that it can become true simply by people believing it's true.  I reconstruct how I think about my actions to match the false ideology; The self fulfilling prophecy can take over; The Pygmalion Effect of expectations by others might take over; or Institutionalizing the idea in social and governmental structures overpowers you. 

So before you give up and believe that we are stuck in a declining spiral of unfulfilling work paradigms. Remember that human beings are "value soaked" creatures.  Everything we do announces a value (a purpose).  Embedded in our hearts is that search for value - which is our choice.  Our "work" will always reflect our value (good or bad).  If our work is bad or unfulfilling, the conflict in our soul will press us with suffering until we resolve the false ideology.

Working to Live .... for what purpose?  Living for purpose is your work.

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