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From a young age, we feel this strange compulsion to get a job.
It makes sense. We have to find a way to make money, to buy food and keep a roof over our heads.
There are certain expectations of us. From our parents, our friends, society.
Get a job.
While you’re at it, make it a good one. One with a fancy title and good pay.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time at work, so you may as well get well paid for it.
But is that all there is?
The wedge-tailed eagle of Australia is a magnificent bird of prey.
One of the largest eagles in the world, they have a massive wingspan that measures over two metres across. Soaring effortless high above the ground, they are a wonderful sight and I have seen them not far from where I live.
They are equipped with huge talons and a large, sharp beak to catch and kill their prey, which can be as large as a wallaby, goat or lamb.
But there’s a problem.
Despite their fearsome hunting equipment, they most often survive on roadkill.
If someone was to ask you what you do, how do you describe your job?
Do you see yourself as just a teacher, or someone who inspires children to gain a lifelong love of learning?
Are you just a receptionist, or someone who creates a warm and friendly atmosphere?
Are you just a construction worker, or someone who builds magnificent edifices that change the city landscape and houses that become homes?
Hermit crabs are remarkable creatures.
Unlike true crabs, which have their own exoskeleton to protect them, they have taken to inhabiting empty shells.
When they get too big for the shell that they are living in, they find a new one and move right in.
Over the years, I’ve met too many people who were afraid to learn the lesson of the hermit crab.
They find themselves stuck in a job that doesn’t suit them anymore.
Seth Godin recently had this to say about our calling,
When what you do is something that you make important, it doesn’t matter so much what you do.
It’s not that important where. It matters a lot how.
With passion and care.
When it comes to our careers, it’s easy to become fixated on what you are doing.
Today is just another day in office.
Which means one of two things.
It could mean another day of meaningless routine, where you go in, do the minimum and go home.
Where you begrudgingly cope with your colleagues and clients.
Where you try to avoid anything too difficult or inconvenient.
Where you earn a paycheck and not much more.
If you’re reading this, it’s because you have a boss who doesn’t appreciate you.
You work hard, you have some great ideas, but no-one seems to notice.
The only thing that is seen is your mistakes and it’s starting to get frustrating.
So because your boss is unable to say it, I want to take the time to say thank you.
Thank you for your hard work.
Thank you for your excellence.
If you owned a zoo, you wouldn’t put an elephant in the Arctic exhibit.
And the penguins and polar bears wouldn’t thrive in the desert section.
You wouldn’t leave the birds in an open area where they could fly away.
And no-one would put venomous snakes in a section with open bars where they can attack the visitors.
If we can find a way to ensure that animals are kept in conditions that best match their unique needs and enables them to thrive, why do so many people spend their lives in jobs that don’t match their skills, for companies that don’t match their values?
The kids had a ball, I loved it too and it was a lovely day.
On reflection, it seems to me that we need minions in our society.
There are a range of thankless, anonymous, unskilled and unglamourous jobs that are necessary, but pay a pittance.
Jobs that require someone to take orders to the letter, do what they’re told and not use their imagination.
They would work in the same job for 40 hours a week for 40 years, no matter how mind-numbingly boring and meaningless it was.
They would go back every day even though they hated it.
And despite being a mismatch for their role, they keep doing a half-baked job for years.
There was a time when too many people did work they hated, work that didn’t matter and work that they weren’t suited for, because they felt they had no choice.
Times have changed!