5 rea­sons we work

The Signal - - Business - Paul BUT­LER

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wis­dom, it was the age of fool­ish­ness, it was the epoch of be­lief, and it was the epoch of in­credulity…” ~ Charles Dick­ens

This quote ac­cu­rately sum­ma­rizes the stage we’re at with our son. Henry is in his last year of uni­ver­sity. We can­not be­lieve how quickly the time has gone — it only seems a short while ago we watched him swing a bat and catch a ball at the Hart base­ball fields. We watched him start and fin­ish cross-coun­try at Valencia High and then, in a flash, he be­came a fresh­man at Chap­man Uni­ver­sity in Or­ange.

It is in­deed the best of times but the worst of times for us — on one hand we’re nearly empty nesters and on the other hand, we’re nearly empty nesters. Henry is no longer a boy and he’s no longer a teenager — he be­came an adult male a few weeks ago when he turned 21.

To help Henry the very best I can at this stage of tran­si­tion as he heads to­ward grad­u­a­tion, I’ve been meet­ing with him monthly to help him fo­cus on his first full­time job or en­tre­pre­neur­ial en­deavor.

Dur­ing my most re­cent break­fast meet­ing with Henry, we dis­cussed the five rea­sons we work. Some peo­ple see work as a sim­ple means to an end — an ex­change of time for money. Such peo­ple like to earn as much as they can for do­ing the least they can. I call such peo­ple: the Ex­chang­ers be­cause they see the world of work as an ex­change mar­ket, noth­ing more and noth­ing less — they clock in and check out.

Some peo­ple work for power — they get a kick out of kick­ing oth­ers, metaphor­i­cally speak­ing. I call these the Ego­tists. You can tell these peo­ple by how they speak, as they use in­de­pen­dent lan­guage (such as “Me,” “My­self” or “I”) even in in­ter­de­pen­dent cir­cum­stances. Ego­tists at work will ma­nip­u­late, ca­jole and carouse who they can, to get where they can. I’ve found Ego­tists not be very nice peo­ple to work for or work with.

For oth­ers it’s all about the money — I call these the Money Gods as they lit­er­ally wor­ship the green stuff. They’d do al­most any­thing for money. My ob­ser­va­tion in the work­ing world is the Money Gods al­ways want

more — they’re never sat­is­fied. As the great philoso­phers, Len­non and Mc­Cart­ney once sang: “Money can’t buy me love.” Un­for­tu­nately, the Money Gods of­ten have a trail of bro­ken re­la­tion­ships in both their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives, due to their al­le­giance to the il­lu­sion that money brings hap­pi­ness. They chase a mi­rage that never ma­te­ri­al­izes.

The fourth rea­son peo­ple work is just for the fun of it — I call these peo­ple the Junkies — such folks get their highs from work just be­ing fun, fun and more fun. The cream on the birth­day cake ev­ery day for Junkies is, if they can have all this fun with peo­ple they re­gard as their “best friends” at work. The big prob­lem with be­ing a Junkie is the sad fact they con­stantly need to get high on some­thing else or with some­one else. Junkies will change jobs of­ten. They’ll jump ship to where the next job cruise looks even cooler and much more fun. Junkies have lit­tle al­le­giance to any­one other than their own adrenalin and pur­suit of fun, fun and more fun.

It’s the fifth rea­son some peo­ple work that is our prayer and hope for Henry’s ca­reer tra­jec­tory and that is — sim­ply to be of ser­vice to oth­ers. It is the Ser­vants who make work no­ble and honor­able. It is the Ser­vants who lead with the heart and the head. It is the Ser­vants who work on a pur­pose. Some­times these peo­ple are richly re­warded for who they are (char­ac­ter), and what they do (com­pe­tence), but some­times, sadly, they’re not. Ei­ther way, Ser­vants sleep well be­cause they know they’re giv­ing their all to some­one and some­thing greater than self. Their re­ward may be in this life or it may not. As John Wooden once said: “A life not lived for oth­ers is not a life well-lived.”

We first make our choices and then our choices make us. I hope that Henry chooses not to be an Ex­changer, an Ego­tist, a Money God or a Junkie but rather he chooses to be a Ser­vant, in not only his ca­reer but also in all the roles he will have in this one won­der­ful life. I hope we’ve served him well as his par­ents.

Paul But­ler is a Santa Clarita res­i­dent and a client part­ner with Newleaf Train­ing and De­vel­op­ment of Valencia (newleaf-ca.com). The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are those of the au­thor and do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent those of The Sig­nal news­pa­per. For ques­tions or com­ments, email But­ler at paul.but­[email protected]

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