Why Is Work so Boring – Free Ebook

one of the overriding reasons why modern work is so boring is that we keep having to do more or less the same thing every day we have to be specialists whereas we would deepen our hearts surely be so much more fulfilled if we could be wide-ranging endlessly curious generalists you can understand the origins of restlessness when you look at childhood as children we will allow to do so much in a single Saturday morning we might put on an extra jumper and imagine being an arctic explorer then have brief stints as an architect making a Lego house a rock star making up an anthem about corn flakes and an inventor working out how to speed up coloring in by gluing for felt-tip pens together we’d put in a few minutes as a member of an emergency rescue team then we try out being a pilot brilliantly landing a cargo plane on the rug in the corridor we’d perform a life-saving operation on a knitted rabbit and finally we find employment as a sous chef helping make a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch each one of these so-called games might have been the beginning of a career and yet we had to settle on only a single option done repeatedly for over 50 years we are so much more than the world of work ever allows us to be in his song of myself published in eighteen fifty five the American poet Walt Whitman gave our multiplicity memorable expression I am large I contain multitudes by which Whitman meant that there is so many interesting attractive and viable versions of oneself so many good ways one could potentially live and work but very few of these ever get properly played out and become real in the course of the single life we have no wonder if we’re often conscious of our unfulfilled destinies and at times recognize with a legitimate sense of agony that we really could well have succeeded at doing something else if not our fault that we’ve not been able to give our multitudes expression the modern job market gives us no option but to specialize we can’t be an airline pilot one afternoon a week at research in two days a month a singer-songwriter in the evenings while holding down part-time work as a political advisor a plumber a dress designer a tennis coach a travel agent and being additionally the owner of a small restaurant lebanese mezack however much this might be the ideal arrangement to do justice to our widespread interests and potential the reason or we cannot do so much were first elaborated at the end of the eighteenth century by the Scottish philosopher adam smith in the wealth of nations Smith explained how what he termed the division of labour massively increases collective productivity in a society where everyone does everything only a small number of shoes houses nails bushels of wheat horse bridles and cartwheels but ever produced and no one is especially good at anything but if people specialize in just one small area making rivets shaping spokes manufacturing rope bricklaying etc they become very much faster and more efficient in their work and collectively the level of production is greatly increased by focusing our efforts we lose out on the enjoyment of multiplicity yet our society becomes overall far wealthier and better supplied with the goods it needs it’s a tribute to the world Smith foresaw that we have ended up with job titles like senior packaging and branding designer intake and triage clinician research center manager risk and internal audit controller and transport policy consultant in other words tiny cogs in a giant efficient machine hugely richer but full of private longings to give our multitudinous self-expression one of Adam Smith’s most intelligent and penetrating readers with the German economist Karl Marx marks agreed entirely with Smith’s analysis specialization had transformed the world and possessed the revolutionary power to enrich individuals and nations but where he differed from Smith was in his assessment of how desirable this development might be we would certainly make ourselves a wealthier by specializing but we would also if he pointed out with passion dull our lives and cauterize our talents in describing his utopian communist Society marks place enormous emphasis on the idea of everyone having many different jobs there were to be no specialists here in a pointed dig at Smith he wrote in communist society nobody has one exclusive of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes thus it’s possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow to hunt in the morning to fish in the afternoon to rear cattle in the evening to criticize after dinner without ever becoming a hunter or fisherman a shepherd or a critic it’s a beautiful but entirely unrealistic dream we have collectively chosen to make work pay more rather than be more interesting it’s a somber thought but a consoling one to our suffering is painful but it has a curious dignity to it because it doesn’t uniquely affect us as individuals it applies as much to the CEO as to the intern to the artist as much as to the accountant everyone could have found so many versions of happiness that will elude them in suffering in this way we are participating in the common human lot we can be sure that whatever we do parts of our potential will have to go undeveloped and die without ever having had the chance to come to full maturity for the sake of the real benefits of focus and specialization you

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