Learning the Lessons
I’m trying hard to learn the lesson friends have taught me as I move through my careers in life. I know I need to avoid the traps of self-importance and of identifying my “self” with my job, as these things make a healthy and happy retirement way more difficult.
It seems such an obvious lesson. It seems these should be easy traps to avoid. Yet, I find so many people around me in life who seem eager to throw themselves gleefully into these traps.
I interviewed for a job promotion not long ago. The first interview went well – with a group of peers and internal customers. Good questions, good dialogue. Then came the panel interview with a combination of peers and superiors. There were so many questions about surrendering my “self” to the job that I began to be troubled. How willing was I to work very long hours? How willing was I to give up weekends for the job? Examples of how each of them sacrificed their personal time for the job. I went home and thought about it over the weekend, then told the company I wasn’t interested in the promotion.
It wasn’t that I objected to long hours or hard work. What I objected to was that my willingness to sacrifice self for job was such an important criteria. It was obvious that folks were measured and measured themselves by how much they gave up for the job, not by the quality or quantity of work/good they accomplished. These people were molding their identity into their career, and they were programmed to look for others who wanted to do the same thing.
Of course, if they seemed to truly enjoy their job, then I might have a bit of understanding. But they seemed miserable, and seemed hell-bent on finding others who wanted to wallow in the misery of long hours and frustrating work with them.
No thanks. Been there, done that, moved way beyond it!
And make sure it’s you doing the job, not the job doing you…