As I got on the shuttle this afternoon that took me from long term parking to the terminal, the driver greeted me and handed me a card that included a reminder of where I was parked. I thanked her and made a comment that this was the first time I had used this lot, and that on my return I would quite likely find myself in the short term lot in a futile search for my truck.
I got the impression from her that she wasn’t really having a good day, that she may not really like her job of driving the same loop for hours at a time, that she was – quite simply – in a grumpy mood. But she responded to my comment, so I continued the conversation.
By the end of the five minute ride we were both laughing and smiling, having shared stories of lost cars in vast parking lots, of walking around with arm held high pushing the alarm button on the keyless remote, of searching for a rental car in a vast sea of rentals that all look alike.
A key philosophy of camping and backpacking is to leave the places you visit in better shape than when you arrived. It seems to me that this philosophy is a good one to have for our interactions with other people as well.
I saw a quote on a discussion board recently in a conversation about telecommuting and taking care of personal business during work time: If they want me to answer my email at night and on the weekends, they shouldn’t have a problem with me making personal calls or email during the day.
One of the recurring themes in Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin, is the idea that the way to succeed in the future is to move away from factory work – of all kinds, either physical or intellectual. In the blog post Goodbye to the Office, he makes explicit his point that the modern office is just a different type of factory. And that if you are doing your work outside the office even a little, why do even need the office in the first place?
Which got me thinking: Is there a future for the weekend? If not, is that a bad thing? A good thing? Just “a thing”?
The modern weekend, of course, is as it is based on a century of factory work, office work, and public education. The same can be said for winter break, spring break, and summer vacation. People want (need? demand?) time to get away from the grind, and expect their work life and their life work be kept separate.
But if you no longer need the factory, if you no longer need the office, do you really need the weekend (or spring break or summer vacation) to get away from it all?
In his new book, Drive, author Dan Pink talks about what really motivates us, the “instrinsic drive” that we want to – but don’t always – follow. He describes the three pillars of this instrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. These three, working in concert, provide the foundation for satisfaction, and if any of these are missing, or are somehow externally constrained, chances are you are unhappy to some degree. This applies to the job that you hate, or the relationship you are “stuck in”. (On the flip side, if you are happy in your job – or relationship – chances are you have an adequate amount of all three.)
In his new book, Linchpin, author Seth Godin tells you that your happiness is entirely up to you. You can be a “factory worker” – where you give up your autonomy, opportunity for mastery, and work to achieve someone else’s purpose – or you can be an artist – where you practice autonomy, master what it is you are doing, and work to your own purpose. And while many authors will tell you how to go about this by “planning your career” or finding the “ideal job”. Godin tells you that you can achieve this without changing jobs. It is your choice: artist or factory worker.
Taken together, these two books can give you a powerful insight into what you are dissatisfied with in your life and your work, why you are dissatisfied, and what you can do about it. All you have to do is figure out what you want to be, a factory worker or an artist.
Me? I choose art.