If I were to share with you the stories of what my friends have done for love, I would be a rather lonely gal.
So I won’t.
But they seem to have no problem with me sharing what they have done for money.
But when you see what people do for money to pay their mortgage, feed a family and the like—you may feel like we are all participating in some form of middle school torture.
Take my friend Pete, for instance (And yes, I’ve changed names. Again, the lonely bit is not fun.).
Pete was trying to pass a very painful kidney stone a few years ago. He was able to work from home, which helped, but it was no picnic. As luck would have it, he passed it in the middle of a conference call that he was running. And no one was the wiser.
I think it is safe to assume he put himself on mute.
Susan called me from Paris one day. It was evening her time and she could not stop crying. It was her son’s first birthday—and despite asking her boss to call into this meeting rather than fly overseas for it—there she was. Guilty, crying and thinking about resigning. Which she did about a year later.
I remember a trip to the West Coast. I sat in a small meeting with a consultant who had brought her dog in her purse to the meeting and let him run all over the conference table. As my boss gave me all the action items at the end of the meeting, he smiled and said, “Oh, and we’ll need these for tomorrow morning’s 9 a.m. meeting.”
Did I mention there was probably 48 hours of work in that list?
My reaction that evening, as I sat in my hotel room gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge and typing furiously, was the same as it had been several years prior when I was a young newlywed consultant heading home after yet another 16-hour day: What the hell have I done?
My San Francisco evening ended with me putting aside my laptop, calling a former colleague and heading out for dinner and a long walk by the pier. I came back to my hotel room tired but refreshed. And I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. getting 48 hours of work done in four. I’d love to say I was also passing a kidney stone, just for dramatic effect, but that honor belongs solely to Pete.
So many more stories I could add. The woman who was attacked outside her apartment and chastised by her boss for not showing up at work the following day. The peach who said she was paid to think, not to work, and had “minions” who should be doing the heavy lifting. Funny—none of those minions tended to stay on her teams for very long. The former vice president who shared with his former report (after both left the firm) that he had never liked him and had tried to purposely make his life miserable so he would quit.
Oy. Middle school on steroids—am I right?
I have a feeling even middle schoolers would be wise enough not to get themselves into some of these situations.
But there we sit.
A distinct difference exists between toiling long hours at a job you love (a joy) and long hours because you just have to put food on the table.
I am not naive or elitist enough to venture that many of us have the luxury of only doing what we love for people we admire.
If only it were so.
But perhaps this younger generation in the workforce—the ones we call “slackers” and “unmotivated” are just sometimes wiser than their older counterparts. They value a whole life, not just one piece of it.
Do what you love. Do it well.
And then go enjoy another facet of your life. Family, hobbies, fun.
Lest you end up as a cautionary tale on someone’s blog someday.
Oh, the horror.