How’s that work ethic coming along?

work ethic caption

Growing up in a family where everyone worked, was expected to work, some things are branded on the psyche and tend to remain there. When I was a pre-schooler and my mother was working in the cotton-patch pulling boles during harvest, my sisters and I had our own pillow-case sized sacks. And though we didn’t pull a lot of cotton, the experience established a niche in our thinking processes that never went away, for me.

[The Runaways – 1947, posted here July 9, 2013, tells a bit about that time]

It’s only as I had five-or-so decades of life behind me that I ever seriously examined the values concerning work I’d lived with and adhered to all my life.

I’d pursued a career almost twenty years, blindly believed my dedication to the job, and the job, itself, were a major piece of what made me valuable as a person. And a spinoff of that belief was that a person who didn’t hold that view and allow a job to measure his worth probably wasn’t worth much.

But toward the end of that career the realization began to creep in that I was devoted, pouring my heart into a job that probably didn’t need doing. That I was wasting my life and that I was actually having a negative influence on the lives of many other people by my single-minded pursuit of that career.

Tough wake-up call it was for me. Jangled my entire life.

So I left that career for another, and wasn’t long in realizing that I was not that job. The job was just a way of making a living. That I was actually in another job that probably didn’t need doing. And I looked around me and saw it was true for almost everything going on around me.

Yes, there are essential jobs out there. Jobs that really need doing. Running the municipal sewer plant, for instance. Driving the garbage truck. Making sure the crops farmers plant are nurtured and harvested. Delivering food essentials to the population. Placing food on the counters for sale to the public.

Now isn’t that interesting? The most fundamentally essential jobs in our ‘civilization’ are the least coveted? That the rewards for doing them are less than those for people selling something, or representing someone in a lawsuit, or working in a unionized factory as a piece of an assembly line? Or repairing automobiles?

I’m inclined to believe the entire issue of the work ethic in this country, and the people who embrace the notion it’s a measure of human worth, needs a lot more careful examination.

I hope I’ll be doing some more blog posts about it for a closer look. Which I expect will raise the hackles of some readers.

Old Jules

20 responses to “How’s that work ethic coming along?

  1. It’s certain that if you give a man a shovel that he’ll never get rich by shoveling. If you can give a hundred men shovels and teach them the work ethic, then you probably will make some real money!

  2. When I figured out that I was really working for me and my family to have money for our wants is when my work ethic took a major change. From then on I wanted my piece of the action and quit doing free overtime for someone who makes money from my OT. Then I finally figured out I was actually in business for myself at acme company. Then I started earning much better money when I was not dedicated to “the company”. I still worked diligently but also required proper pay for that effort, not a 20 year employee sticker.

  3. “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” with Mike Rowe.

    • Good thing some people are willing to do them for a pittance. We’d be in a heck of a shape if we had to pay them what a CEO or lawyer or sales executive gets.

  4. You may (or may not) be interested in the following article.

  5. There are some jobs that will always need done and they are not done by the so-called educated people. Will they develop robots for these jobs? Not many want to do actual physical labor these days. It’s a different world today from the one we grew up in.

    • Yes and it’s going to be a different world in, say, 2060 when the young people of today are approaching their golden years than it is today. They’ll be able to elect candidates who promise to bring back the good old days of the early 21st Century I suppose. Happy thoughts. Gracias, Old Jules

  6. I’ve been thinking along those same lines, feeling more and more like a gerbil on a treadmill with each day that passes. I don’t see the point in acquisition nor do I see any purpose in what I’m doing. The only redeeming feature of what I fill my time with is people seem to feel better after I do whatever it is that I’m responsible for doing.

    • Seems to me if a person needs to work to make ends meet any excuse he or she can find to justify doing it is worth the price of admission. Just saying. Old Jules

  7. Whatever our reason for committing to our jobs is, I think we need to reflect often on why we do what we do and make changes if our reasons are not satisfactory or become obsolete

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