Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Doing It For the Money

As I anticipate the great 50 year marker at which I will arrive in a couple of months, I spend increasingly more time introspecting. This morning's epiphany was about Doing It. Why do we Do It, what do we want/need/get out of Doing It, (and I'm sure you're wondering, what IS It)? Most of us know as we're growing up that we're going to have to Do It. We dream about It, we think about what It will be for us and where we want to Do It, and when we picture ourselves Doing It, it's always the most fun and exciting, novel and unique aspects of It that we see--we certainly never see ourselves being bored Doing It (though we often will be).

Our parents encourage us to choose It based on how much we will make Doing It, how much security there is, how much demand for It. They want It to be able to provide for us and our families financially--and, don't get me wrong, financial stability IS important. But when push comes to shove, as it always does, how many of us can really Do It just--or even primarily--for the money? I can't. My spouse can't. Maybe my father did, and he was often miserable--though that brings up another point to address below.

My epiphany was brought on this morning when I ran into a parent from Jessie's school here at Kavarna who works at the school in a parental representative position. She (as always) was full of energy and enthusiasm, zest and focus for her job and the rest of her life. I looked at her as an employer (more on that below) and thought how lucky I would be if I could hire her for the studio. She's educated, articulate, enthusiastic, energetic--and not at all focused on The Money. She couldn't be. Though I don't know how much she makes for the school, I know that if she thought about how many hours she works and how much she makes she would realize that she could Do It at the Publix deli counter and make more money and have more free time for her family than she does now. She doesn't work at the Publix deli counter.

Doing It, aka Working, cannot be about the money you garner from the work. If it were, you would inevitably become dissatisfied and think you are worth more than you are making--the expression of which would undoubtedly make your employer think you were worth less. As I looked at this woman this morning I realized that we do not work because we have to for money, we work because we have to to live. Work enables us to feel worth, participate in a community, exercise our brains, be anchored, have a purpose--in other words, to live.

When we start thinking about how much we're making for our work compared to how much we're working and we begin to feel resentful, it's not about the money--however much we might say it is--it's about the work. Something about the work is not or is no longer meeting our needs. The answer really isn't to ask for a raise. More money for the same work environment is a short term sop that initially makes us feel more self-worth but doesn't address the real problem. The real problem is either that the negative aspects of the job or the job environment outweigh the positives and leave us feeling down at the end of the day, or that we have intrinsic self-worth issues that keep us from being fulfilled and validated external to the job. In the former case a reworking of the job or it's environmental factors (co-workers) might fix the problem, in the latter, a good therapist would be a good start. In both cases, I really don't believe money is the issue.

A physical need for an increase in money may dictate a request for a raise or a job change, but it won't decrease our satisfaction level with our job. Instead we're more likely to regret the change that's being forced upon us by financial responsibility--and we hope we'll be lucky enough to be happy in the next job we have to take based on the remuneration for it.

So why am I thinking as an employer right now? Because we are expanding the studio again and I have been putting together salary and benefit packages for potential employees. I have to balance being fair with how much the studio can afford--and it's made me really think about how much (or in this case little) I make and what that means to me. At the end of the day, it doesn't mean a thing. Dave has always said that he'd code even if no one paid him. If he ever works for a company that goes public or is bought by Google or Amazon resulting in millions of dollars for him, nothing about his relationship with his laptop will change--he'll still be plugged in all day every day writing code. He has to code. It gives him joy that cannot matched by anything else long-term. He would wither and die if he couldn't code anymore.

I own/run a business and am not burdened with paying the mortgage, the property taxes or our household bills--Dave's salary covers those things. So because I don't HAVE to work for a salary does that mean I work less or take it less seriously? It is to laugh (as Mike would say). I work as I work because of who I am, not what I make, and I work damn hard. I am very fortunate that I lucked into Judy, my studio elf, because she is just the same. She attacks every task with zest and verve and joy. I was very, very lucky to have found her (thank you Lori), and I hope I am as lucky in my upcoming hires. If you have an employee whose first question is always "What's in it for me/what's it going to cost me?", no one is going to be happy.

Back to my father for a second. He was not happy to actively miserable in his job for much of his 30 years of service (same job, same office, US Forest Service). He was also not happy in his personal life. Was he unhappy in his job because of the job and therefore unhappy in his personal life because of his job, or was he unhappy because that's the way he was? If it had been the job, I would have expected him to be happier in the 20+ years after he retired, but that wasn't the case. There was always something that made him mad, unhappy or just discontented--illegal immigrants were stealing American jobs, there was favoritism in the ski school (he was also a ski instructor), the environment was being wrecked, Someone Somewhere getting Something they shouldn't have and didn't Deserve... (I feel a rant coming on about being so obsessed with what's fair and right that we miss enjoying what is. No time for that today. Need to stay on topic.) My conclusion is that Dad was who he was and all of his experiences were colored by his own inner unhappiness. His unhappiness did not have external causes--it was internally driven. He could be happy for short bursts by achieving some goal, but every success was doomed to be followed by a failure because of how he felt about himself.

Now back to the upcoming hires and managing the expectations/happiness of current staff. It's Not About the Money! I cannot let myself be convinced that it is. The idea of a level of experience and education being worth a certain amount of money and having that as a driving concern for a prospective employee is going to be an immediate strong negative flag for me. I need to trust that I have been fair because that's who I am. I have to trust that I do the right thing because that's who I am. I have to Trust and stick to my vision because I can't Do It for the money, and I really don't want anyone around me who thinks they need to.

Now, anyone know anyone in the Atlanta area who might be interested in teaching glassblowing, working as a hotshop assistant, or teaching kilnforming/cutting and stocking glass?

1 comment:

Bill said...

Bummer. No jobs for first aid techs...