The bulk of your impact on the world comes from your work. It’s been said you have 80,000 hours of work in your life, and no one wants to sink their time and talent into the wrong endeavor.
I was raised in the 80s with the cult of corporate. You get a good job, show up daily, work your way up the rank and retire at 55 or 60 with a decent pension. My parents were taught this was how the world worked, and my dad followed that script to the letter at General Motors.
How’d that plan work out for my dad? By the time he died in his mid-60s, after decades with GM, my dad had lost his pension after their bailout and was completely hung out to dry. The cult of being the “company man” failed him.
This has made it really hard for me to be a good company girl and any trust that a 40-hour-a-week-company will be there for me in the long term is gone. It drove me to start my own business a few years ago and I’m grateful for that. I’m not an outlier either, more and more of my generational counterparts are learning for themselves that you can’t rely on outside sources to secure your future anymore.
This all sounds rather pessimistic, but truly, this shift in our culture thrills me. The days where you merely show up, punch in, and do what your boss tells you to do until it’s time to punch out and go home are nearly extinct.
Now, we must lean into the more uncomfortable pursuits. To get by today we have to do work that matters, make a difference, be seen. We have to seek to do our best work. And when the masses aim to produce meaningful work, the world changes in incredible ways.
Conforming and being good at moving widgets from A to B is too easily automated out of our hands and it makes you, as a worker, too easily replaced by another interchangeable human with a bit of simple training.
This is scary. You either have to live with the risk of being replaceable or lean into the risky business of doing something no one else is doing. You can’t follow the herd if you want to thrive.
We’ve all done enough “busy work” in our lives from unengaged bosses or teachers trying to kill time, it’s time to do our best work, work we’re proud of, every time we show up. It’s time to change the world.