I was raised that hard work is a virtue. I was even told that it was required because Eve couldn’t control her appetite and ate that damn apple. But the new generations are challenging the myth of hard work. And it is about time.
The Savage Chickens cartoon above reminded me of one of my first jobs. I worked in a government office. The job was all about the time that you clocked in and clocked out. One day, I got a little creative and found ways to do my job more efficiently. Soon I was working only one hour each day. Now, I had a real problem. How do I look busy for the other seven hours? Doing my job smart, better, or with more creativity was not rewarded. In fact, I made quite a few enemies. Eventually, I knew that I had to be an entrepreneur. I had to be the captain of my ship.
Hard work and creativity have been at odds for centuries. When a creative person does what they love, the work ceases to be hard. When a creative person gets new ideas, it makes their job easy. The work again ceases to be hard. A creative person often has something other people want. They don’t have to market or sell as hard. Oops, we’ve got another problem here. They are not working hard anymore. Creative people are unique; they capitalize on their gifts. Our gifts come in many forms; and everybody has them. When we use our gifts, we just don’t seem to be working very hard.
I run into creative people all the time who feel guilty doing what they love. They feel that they have to put on a public persona of suffering and pain so that others won’t judge them. In the old belief system, people were supposed to come home from work and complain about their day. They were supposed to hate Monday morning. Today’s creative entrepreneurs might work 20 hours a day or two. They might work one day a week or seven. But work and play are not separate. Finally, people have learned that the words work and play are simply labels. And play can be rewarded with a pay check.
I’ve often pretended to work hard to avoid the judgment of the Puritans of the world. I’ve often pretended that I did something the hard way just so I didn’t have to explain myself. And I am thrilled to meet more and more people everyday that are loving what they do, mixing work and play, and finding out that life was meant to be fun.
So let’s face the truth. Where did the idea of hard work come from. It came from slavery. To get people to be slaves, to work for another and make them rich, required a powerful motivation. So if you promise them job security, a few benefits, time off in old age with a pension, a reward in heaven, or even label them good or virtuous, people will give up their true potential and work for you.
Many humans were forced into slavery. It baffles me how anyone could have slaves and still sleep at night. I cannot imagine how the people who dragged slaves to the Americas could consider themselves religious and good. I can’t believe that we still hold these people in awe as great leaders. I can’t believe that there was a time on earth when slavery was considered normal.
Those days are not completely behind us. Some business owners still have a master-slave consciousness. They pay their employees minimum wage while they stay in five-star hotels and fly in the corporate jet. But those days are ending because people are refusing to work those jobs. They are challenging the notion that hard work is the only means to reward. The new entrepreneurs are creating cyber corporations that are competing with the old guard. People are working while traveling the world or sitting in their pajamas. People are quietly developing their passions into businesses on the side, learning about the internet, and looking for opportunities. They see a lay off as a springboard to freedom. Instead of hitting the job bank, they are getting creative and becoming masters of their own life.
In order to keep slaves punching the clock, society had to frown on chasing one’s dreams. Artists and creatives had to be second-class citizens. The idea of the starving artist caused many geniuses to get a so-called real job. Hard work had to be a virtue, albeit a false virtue.
But today people are dropping their belief in hard work, and it is about time. People have seen proof that creativity and passion can be rewarding. Working for the man has lost its status. Security is losing to freedom. Work is losing to play. Risk is losing to reward. And following our heart has finally become the new cool way of life.