Is this what we should be doing?

Job checklist of doom

Can you survive the job checklist of doom? You are out when you answer “yes”.

  1. Stop. What are you doing? Are you happy with your work?

  2. At your job, are you doing what you wanted to do?

  3. Do you feel like your boss appreciates the plans you have for your career?

  4. Do you feel like he / she wonders about how you feel?

  5. Do you think things would be different if you had more experience? If you had that other degree? That fancy certificate?

  6. Do you know what really defines the job you do, and how much you make?


Well, apparently it has a lot - a lot - more to do with who you know than anything else. It barely matters who you are, what you know, how savvy, smart, senior-ultra-specialist-yet-with-experience-in-all-those-other-fields you are.

It’s just about money. The haves and have-nots. You will get your money. Not much, just enough, so that you don’t go bonkers and wrack havoc all around you. It’s better if everyone you know earn the same. That way it can be very little and yet you will convince yourself that this what it is.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck, they say.

And there isn’t really much you can do about it. You long for the weekend. For your vacations. For the ever more out of reach trip one day you’ll make with your family. You hope you won’t get sick. Ever.

If you manage to pay your bills, keep the kids at the school, if you can afford their dental treatments, you’re a real hero! Truly.

But what about your dreams? What you wanted to be when you grow up?

Isn’t the world full of problems that need solving? What is everybody doing if not working to solve them?

Now that’s a damn good question.

Yes, the world is full of problems. Some of them are quite alarming. But no matter your intentions, you can’t work on them because:

a. It costs a lot of money;

b. Solving the problems won’t get the money back any time soon (meaning in less than ten years, the maximum period for return of investment commonly accepted by capital firms);

c. Leaving the problem alone won’t really make a difference on the lifetime of who is wealthy now.

The cog

So that leaves you as a cog in the machine, a link in the chain. Until you and all of us die. Such is the best, most advanced society we, humans, came up with.

And most people don’t even care. Shout about all of the above and they will just nod. “Yes, I know”. And go on not caring about what career their employees would like to have. How they are feeling. Or what that extremely capable, highly educated and lucky group of people could be doing to better the world, if they were not busy making each others’ lives miserable.

This is why it is better to just have the avocado sandwich now, instead of trying to save to buy a house, which will never happen.

Depressed yet? Don’t worry about it. Soon you will get that slightly better job because of someone you know. And for a while you will forget that this is even a problem.

Problem solved

Didn’t humanity come further than that? Didn’t we fought wars, cured diseases, charted all corners the Earth?

Is it so hard to fix this? Must one reinvent capitalism? It seems so simple. Put hubris aside. Mind your colleagues. Work for a fruitful, meaningful outcome. Be respectful.

But lets see how it works in a rich, developed country. Take Canada, for example. Which, in fact, is a very interesting case in this regard.

Canada has a strong immigration program that regularly brings in thousands of high skilled workers every year. And how do you protect your job from being taken by one of these hungry high skilled immigrants? They developed an elaborate social system that enforces the worst jobs on newcomers under the excuse that local experience is required before applying for better jobs. Forget merit. This job is mine because I was here first.

Hence bad corporate practices abound. Undermining, misappropriation of ideas, outlandish performance reviews. Anything goes to say the high skilled is not so highly skilled after all, and I don’t loose my job to her / him.

Other countries have slightly different social norms in place, like a pyramid of ranking influence with the royal family on top. The outcome is not so different. The older, better connected, traditional local families rule. It hardly matters your skill set or knowledge.

It is human nature, you see? If I turn to you with the title of this article, “is this what we should be doing?”, you will come with an excuse so fast it will feel like you didn’t even had to think about it. We are very good at excusing ourselves. Something to do with self-preservation.

You will say: me? Who do you think I am? If I could do my job any bit differently, I certainly would have done it already. But I can’t. I have my bills to pay. Everybody has a boss, and I have to do what my boss wants.

Money rules us all. And nothing changes.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw

So, despite everything, before you go I do turn to you.

Next chance you get, look in the eyes of your employee, colleague, co-worker, and ask: is this what we should be doing?

Look at the people in your meeting room, all either feeling as miserable as you or going on and on in love with the sound of their own voices. Is this what we should be doing?

Look at the candidate you are interviewing, sadistically punishing by making him / her answer the most bizarre questions on a whiteboard. Just because you can’t tell a friend from a foe. Is this what we should be doing?

Look at the person stuck in traffic in the car next to you. The zombie-like creatures in the train going home, noses glued to their phones. Is this what we should be doing?

Look at teenagers, those poor kids. As far as nose and phones go, these were already born glued together. Off they go, crossing streets, jumping water pots and skilfully dodging obstacles without mistyping a single emoticon. Is this what we should be doing?

Look at the mind blowing, nonsensical questionnaire you have to go through next time you fill your taxes.

Could I be doing this differently?

November 10, 2019.