Aesop has a parable of the goose that laid the golden egg, which has resulted in a number of iterations. One is of a guy who we’ll call Griffin, who has a pet goose. In fact, it’s a magic goose, so much so it’s named the golden goose. The magic of this goose is that every day it lays a 24-karat golden egg. As the story goes, the owner is propped up on his headboard one morning, fingers interlaced behind his head, as he admires the goose and the pile of golden eggs on the dresser across the room. Suddenly the outside rumbles, the building begins to shake violently, and it’s clear that an earthquake has commenced. Of course, an expedited exit is imperative. The mission is to exit as fast as possible, perhaps grabbing anything of value on the way out. As Griffin leaves the bedroom, he gathers up the pile of golden eggs and exits the house. Of course, the goose is left behind to his own peril, and it does not end well for the goose.
I have written extensively about the importance of a job, which is a means to an end. Work is not only what we do, but to a great extent, who we are. Take away our sleeping time, and our work career is as much as 30 percent of our life. It troubles me when I see the surveys indicating that 60 percent of Americans hate their job! Such has negative ripple effects as it affects one’s health, relationships with colleagues, and dynamics at home. In our organization, you either can stay and be happy, you can leave and be mad, but you can’t stay and be mad. It’s not fair to others, and just frankly, life is too short.
In previous columns, I have expressed my concern with the magnitude of wealth ($70 trillion) being transferred to the next generation. My stated fear is that, as a country we may remove both the need to work, and worse, the desire to work. Remember the recent all too popular quote “I quit my job today…,” which escalated in popularity during COVID-19. Does working not add to our feeling that we are valuable? Does it not, in part, validate our relevancy? Today, so few have pride in their job or their employer. Do we not all know those when asked how it’s going, reply with something along the lines of, three years, two months, 11 days, six hours as their own personal countdown clock until retirement. What a sad life to live. There are 1 billion people in the world workforce, and 85 percent of them hate their job! Now grant it, if I was making sneakers in Bangladesh for 15 cents a day, I would hate my job as well, but let’s focus on home here in the good ole USA.
60% report being emotionally detached at work.
19% report being miserable at work.
51% report being stressed at work.
41% report being worried at work.
22% report being sad at work.
18% report being angry at work.
And on … and on … and on.
According to Gallup, “Job unhappiness is at a staggering all-time high.” In fact, by one survey, 65 percent of the respondents reported being satisfied with their job. The takeaway is 35 percent are not happy. Granted, the statistics are all over the map, but by and large, the data is skewed in the wrong direction. Studies show that businesses with engaged workers have 23 percent higher profit while others where employees are not engaged cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity! Note that represents the equivalent of 11 percent of global GDP! Also, to what extent does this discontent contribute to workplace shootings, substance abuse, divorce, violence, depression, and so on? Is our job not the goose that provides the monetary wherewithal to provide what even if an average lifestyle that is envied the world over? Let us value employment. Let us be thankful we live in a capitalistic economic system that rewards those who invest in expanding themselves and their relevant skill sets. A country that rewards those who take risks as provided in a meritocracy.
You must feed the goose, nurture the goose, and above all, recognize that it is the means to an end and provides a pretty damn good life. Perfect, never; free of pain, hardly; without challenges, think again; but remember as I have offered before, the life many bitch about is the same life others dream about. If you are happy with your chosen career and the PVF company for whom you work, congratulations, as it makes for a better all-around life. If you’re not happy, it could be for a good reason or a bad reason, or a manufactured reason. Whatever the case, it would be wise to change your attitude or, by all means, change your employer. After all, you owe it to yourself. As Mahatma Gandhi suggested, “The future depends on what you do today.”
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” — Rumi, 13th-century Persian poet