Monday, April 9, 2012
"Everything Else" Provides an Outline
One way of discerning the shape of an object is to fill in the space where the object isn't. I generally try to "stay positive" in my thinking, but I'm going to provide some outlines by listing some ideas that no longer work for me:
Your life's work is your job. Your career and a large part of your identity are defined by where you work, who you work for, and what you do for income. Your job is a prepackaged set of duties, defined by your employers on their terms. You are expected to help them advance their enterprise. The effect this has on you is of no consequence.
Work is hell. Part of being an adult is resigning yourself to work you don't enjoy because it brings in the money you need to buy the stuff you think you are supposed to have. It's not supposed to be fun, that's why they call it work. Just be glad you have a job.
Pie in the sky by and by. If you make enough money (after you finish paying for all your stuff), one day, you will be able to retire. Hope like hell that you are still healthy enough and rich enough to work in a few of the enjoyable, fulfilling things that you never found time for when you were working.
School is meant to prepare you for work. The reason you go to college is to put you onto a career path that brings in lots of money, so you can buy lots of stuff and eventually retire. All those humanities electives and extracurricular activities are a waste of time, unless they help you meet important people who will help you make a good start to your career. You don't have to enjoy your studies or like the career you are studying for, just as long as it makes you rich.
Busier is better. Life is just one big contest to see who can put in the most hours on the job and who can cram the most tasks into their day. The people who hold staff meetings by cell phone while driving way over the speed limit from company headquarters to the branch location are the ones who get promoted.
You have to be a team player. As in, "take one for the team", not "your team is there to back you up". Show up for all the company social events, wear the polo shirts with the company logo, skip your kid's baseball game for the all-hands meeting, make sure that you speak to the CEO every chance you get so that he remembers who you are.
Getting kicked off the team is a fate worse than death. The company provides you with your identity. If you think that the company is about to downsize, you must redouble your efforts, work longer hours, multitask better, and score as much face time as possible with anyone holding the rank of vice president or higher. If you are laid off, no one will ever hire you again. You will go bankrupt, your family and friends will leave you, and the rest of your life will be miserable.
Never hire anyone over 30. New college hires are inexpensive, plentiful, healthy, energetic, and accustomed to pulling all-nighters. Hiring people right out of college cuts down on your employee development costs, since you're letting the kids' parents pay the tuition for all the latest and greatest technical training. Once this training becomes outdated, hire some new kids. Corollary: If your hair is turning gray, you must dye it so that no one will ever know how old you really are.
As I said, those are some of the ideas I'm throwing onto the scrap heap. My hope is that once they are cleared out of the way, the picture of what I do want can emerge into sharper focus.