If there’s one question that could very well start this book, it would be this: Do you love your work? Now, that question’s kind of heavy, isn’t it? It is perhaps too big for an opening statement, so you might think you didn’t get the question right. Let me repeat it then:
“Do you love your work?”
Why do I ask? It’s because everything that you are becoming every day, everything that you do every moment of your working hours, and probably everything that you think about most of the time, has everything to do with your life as a whole.
Simply put, even if that question sounds seemingly easy, it’s a powerful key to finally putting to rest every agony, sorrow, and disappointment you have inside you that probably makes you hate either your job or your boss.
When you get to answer that question with a “yes” or a “no,” let me ask you this follow-up question: “Why are you working?”
Seemingly, that’s an easy question, too. When I ran a short survey on Facebook, in fact, there was no question at all about the answers. It was all about money, livelihood, satisfaction, the absence of choice, fate, and many more. The sentiments were all the same. In sum, we all work for either money or fulfillment or for a combination of both.
But of course, one other fact has remained the same as it was thousands of years ago: We all need to work. Even company owners need to work. More often than not, they even work three or four times harder than their employees. Your bosses will need to work, too. Students will need to study. Parents will need to parent their children.
Everybody will need to move and do something for as long as they live. Is it a punishment by God that when a certain Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, we all have ended up having to labor to live?
Well, whether the story is true or not and whatever the answer to that question, the fact is we are all working and we will need to continue to do so to live.
This is why I wrote this book. If we don’t have any option but to work for a living, how should we look at our work? If there’s nothing else we can do but to work for a living, how should we respond to this reality? If we could never ever escape a “working” life, then how should we position ourselves in the workplace?
Our goal here is to understand the real meaning of what we do so we can liberate ourselves from anxiety, from pain, and from frustration due to our poor understanding of our job or of our work. Without expanding our thinking on this very important matter, our limited knowledge can do us more harm than good.
This is why some people get sick. It’s not only because of the polluted air or water. It’s also because of our polluted working environment and polluted mindsets. Imagine some people seeing the person they hate every day and trying to figure out how that person might be fired from the company or praying that soon that person will quit his or her job. And what about corporate politics; hasn’t it been there for centuries? We can take the case, too, of an ugly working relationship between the boss and the employees or of a turf war among company workers.
The thing is that the way we deal with every issue will define the way we will live our lives at work and at home. And whoever told you that you can separate your work life from your personal life is totally mistaken. It’s simply impossible to do so.
Everything must have a connection and a relation. That’s why a bad-hair day that started from home can become an entire bad-hair day at work and vice versa.
It’s not easy to find a work-life balance, if ever there’s such a thing. Honestly, I believe that work is life itself. That being the case, I don’t think we should even make an effort to balance work and life. It just won’t make any sense. Life, to my mind, can’t be taken away from anything that we do. Life is embedded in every form of labor that we do, every emotion that we feel, every decision that we make.
Life is what happens.
Accepting several mysteries at work and at home will make your life easier. That’s what this book is also about. In the following pages, we’re going to find that there’s only a thin line between job and work. We need to learn that difference between the two so we can make informed decisions and sound judgment on what we do.
Obviously, we shouldn’t ask this question: “Are you jobbing?” It’s as misdirected as this question: “Are you working occasionally at separate short jobs?” That’s how Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “jobbing,” which is chiefly British usage.
So, is there a distinct difference between job and work? You’ll find the answer in this book.
Every workplace has its own norms, culture, and traditions. If you’re a newcomer particularly in a big company, it would take time to realize that you’re expected to move in a certain way under certain circumstances. Obviously, there are structures and rules that you’ll need to follow should you want to keep your job. If you’ve been a longtime employee, having worked for, say, 10 years or more since the company’s founding, then it’s likely that you yourself was part of the pioneering group that developed those structures and rules.
How do you understand the corporate culture? Is it even necessary for you to know and observe its norms? How do you capitalize on them? Is it possible to benefit from the existing corporate culture? Who’s making up the company’s “generally accepted standards”?
There are always some intractable issues in every organization—gossip, backstabbing, jealousy, mudslinging, blame games, and a thousand and one others. No matter how often you attend or are sent to seminars, conferences, conventions, or trainings, those issues are almost impossible to resolve. But why is it that we are unable to resolve these issues using the principles we’ve learned from our values education in primary and secondary school?
Companies spend a lot of time and money on training. Is this the solution to those corporate issues or does the spending only end up making employees even more adept in engaging in these issues? As an individual, is it that hard to do good than to do bad? Or is this the very reason why, consciously or not, we do bad things?
In this book, we will cover these issues and take up some suggested solutions so you need not waste your time and energy in trying to beat the system. Afterwards, perhaps you can even draw your own system and game plan to make the existing system obsolete. When this happens, you’ll become the driver of your own career.
Finally, in the last chapter, I’ll invite you to move up and raise your own bar. Being an employee doesn’t mean being lowly. It doesn’t mean that someone else owns you and that you’ll have to follow everything you are told to do. If what you do is getting in the way of your personal philosophy and judgment, you always have a choice to pick another journey.
Being an employee doesn’t mean that you always have to get a little and your bosses will have too much. It doesn’t take away your right to be happy. Your being a worker doesn’t restrict you from exercising your free will or the freedom to choose and decide for yourself. It is therefore wrong to say, “I have no choice.”
As an employee, you are duty-bound to follow certain set procedures. But it shouldn’t restrain you from growing. I think growth is a very important parcel of happiness, too. If you’re no longer growing and the environment you’re working in no longer provides you room for development, it’s time to get out of your post.
As a worker, though, you’ll get every opportunity to make your life better every day. This is true for everyone. But not everyone can recognize this opportunity, and that recognition often spells the difference between success and failure. To succeed, you should learn to either recognize an opportunity or create one for yourself.
Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of personal development. I believe that the only way to succeed is to beat every opponent along your way. But by “opponent” here I mean your thinking, your choices, and your actions. Beating these opponents means challenging yourself to continuously improve and do a little bit more—every day.
One thing more: I’d like to confess that I’ve always been an employee. And my love for my work and my commitment to my God-given talent have always employed and empowered me to work for yet another day. But for how long? Oh, yes, for as long as I live.
Lloyd A. Luna
September 1, 2010
Makati City, Philippines