Being an older person, I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life. I’ve been a fast-food worker, retail sales, a bar busser in a Goth club, and a succession of various web design and development positions. Some were fine, others downright toxic and abusive, but even at their best they were merely tolerable. My income has usually been at or just below subsistence level.
It wasn’t until the puppet building thing suddenly happened that I actually enjoy my job, and it’s made me keenly aware of the sadly unique position I’m in, in that regard. There are regrettably few people in my situation. Lives of quiet desperation, all being fuel for someone else’s machine.
Puritanical Capitalists like to espouse the virtues of a strong “work ethic”, which of course serves their purposes. Work itself is seen as some kind of ethical act, no matter what the work entails. Being from a white, suburban, blue collar neighborhood I sure did hear a lot about that growing up, and it was something of a shock when I grew up and realized it’s all a scam, part of the structure to keep the rich getting richer and the poor thankful for what little they have.
It’s only now, working for myself doing something I both love but also have aptitude for, that I find myself with a strong “work ethic”. I set targets to hit, make sure jobs get done, and do what is necessary to make it all work, because I must. This whole thing is on me, no one is pushing me, and I’m only answerable to myself. The only option is self-discipline.
But even in that, it’s important to remember to take care of oneself. If I’m my own boss, I’m determined to be a good boss. I treat myself as I’d want to be treated as an employee. If I need personal time, I take it. If I need to do errands, I do them. If schedules have to be shifted, they’ll shift. The work exists for the people, not the other way around.
The next time some Venture Capitalist tries to espouse how “no one wants to work” and puts forward some myth that they’re self-made despite floating on a sea of family wealth, remember this. Work itself isn’t terrible, and “work ethic” comes naturally to a healthy workplace. It’s what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for.
This is all a little deep for a Monday morning. Anyway, the new episode of the podcast is out! Enjoy!
Like I’ll enjoy this coffee.