Challenging our platitudes and renouncing the ‘war on work’

Danielle Laporte wrote this amazing post apologizing to the 9 to 5 crowd and all her pre-conceived notions about the type of people they are: robots, zombies, bored out of their skull. In it, she includes a remarkable TED talk from Mike Rowe, the host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs that you simply must carve out 20 minutes to hear. His articulate, spellbinding and intellectual talk illustrates the need to question the ideas we have everyday: about innovation, safety, “following your passion.” “We’ve declared war on work” he says. We have done injustice to how we portray working people, or 9 to 5-ers, or those without the gumption to start their own business or invent new things.

He says we get lulled by Madison Avenue in that we deserve to have more free time, easier work lives, more technology, more innovation. He says that has caused a “marginalization of certain types of jobs.” His honest admission to “getting a lot wrong” is refreshing and that perhaps we need a “PR campaign for work, for skilled labor.”  Whatever happened to the nobleness and necessity of our blue-collar jobs, the ones our Grandfather’s had, the ones that built our infrastructure? Well, his theory is that these jobs have been victims of this war, and are getting a “bad rap.”

I was especially moved by his statement that “following his passion” was some of the worst advice he’s ever received; that sometimes “passion” just won’t pay the bills. And he’s right, to some extent. We celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and so-called lifestyle, but it may not be feasible for all of us. And it certainly would not be feasible to have a nation of independent workers all following their passions with no one to build roads, pick up road-kill or take care of our trash – or from a desk-job perspective, corporate accountants or government administrators.

Instead of renouncing these jobs and lifestyles as meaningless or “less than”, we should be finding ways to celebrate them and cultivate innovation and new ideas within them. Plenty of 9 to 5’ers lead happy, fulfilled lives contributing to their workplace, their colleagues and their communities. They are not necessarily “selling out” or “settling.”

We’re all trying to make things easy for ourselves. There are people out there who will show you how to make millions of dollars on the Internet, how to only work 4 hours a week, or how to take 6 months to dwell on your own thoughts, fears, and passions without ever taking a real step anywhere. Maybe it’s time to simply just get on with things  and get to work, in whatever forma that means for you.

What do you think?

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