It's Called "Work" For A Reason

My brother is only 16, but he is very wise. Recently, upon hearing a grown-up-type person bitch up her job, he replied, "Well, it's called 'work' for a reason." At this moment I said a little prayer of thanks that my parents had imparted to the kid that, in life, you have to work hard, and working hard isn't always sexy. This sort of sentiment, however, is absent among many of the Gen Y-ers currently entering the workforce, claims Lisa Belkin in today's New York Times. The kids nowadays are all worried about "passion" and "life mapping," and less concerned with, oh, putting in the hours and being the best damn alphabetizer/stapler/photocopy-er they can be. Says Daniel Pink, (whose book The Adventures of Johnny Burko is supposed to teach young adults that hard work is a good thing): "This generation has been spoon-fed self-esteem cereal for the past 22 years. They've been told it's all about them — what they want, what they are passionate about, what they find fulfilling. That's not a bad message, but it's also not a complete message."

I spoke with an acquaintance who just graduated from college last May, and is about eight months into her first-ever job. I asked her, now that the stress of the first six months and figuring out the lay of the land, how she likes her work. "I answer the phone and file things," she said. "You don't need a college degree to do what I do. It's stupid that I am in this job." This answer told me nothing about how she enjoyed the nature of her work; whether the field she had chosen to go into was interesting to her, whether she was learning things from those above her, being exposed to a way of thinking or a process she had not encountered before. I knew nothing of how she liked her work, only that she didn't enjoy the process of working. "Maybe I'll become a party-planner," she then said, "That seems fun."

Pink says this is why this generation needs rules, and Belkin herself points out that it's not just the young in need of a little reality slap, but their parents, noting how she received a letter from a reader who "described her daughter, who will be graduating from college next month, as paralyzed by the fear that whatever job she takes would not be her passion and would therefore be wrong. "How can I help her find her life's calling?" the mother wondered." I will save Lisa Belkin the time of answering this one: Dear Mama and Daughter, Chillax.

There is no perfect job. As my dad has always told me, as long as your work is not immoral, unethical, or illegal — well, then it's good work. Sure, hopefully you find it interesting, but there is no make-believe land where you are rewarded daily with gold stars, and championed for your "passion" for merely showing up and breathing air. But if you work hard and at the end of the day can be proud of what you did — well then, you done good.

Prepping Children for the 9 to 5 [New York Times]