Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Job, part 5

I was speaking to TK recently. He has a young child about three years old, and has been on a new job a year and a half.

Of course the conversation turned to the current economy and all the job loses.

He said, "I don't know what I would do if I lost my job."

I repeated a saying I had heard, "Nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of being hung in the morning."* With that, we had a good laugh.

My meaning is that the circumstances will force every one of us to face the reality of the whatever present is thrust upon us. Until we are faced with it, we often have the luxury of ignoring impending reality.

[*I finally looked up the origin of that quote, and the original is nothing like what I understood:
"Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." --James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson]

On the subject of employment, it often amazes me how different immigrants react to needing to survive and earn a living compared to many Americans born here. I count myself in the latter.

It sometimes appears that the vista of opportunities seem vaster, at least by what they accomplish, by immigrants. This is not to discount great things that have been done by non-immigrants, including many startups that have been launched and succeeded in recent years. But as a group, immigrants seem to perceive what opportunities there are and wrest accomplishments from them.

Maybe some advice would be to 'look at the world as if you're an immigrant'; it does sound a little familiar an idea.

So how does one go about looking at the world through new eyes?

So how does one go about looking at the world through new eyes without thinking (or needing to think) that one will be hung in the morning?

Or perhaps it might be a good idea to follow that thought... about being hung in the morning, at least to some degree. Namely, with a drive and a focus and a clarity that only heightened attention can bring, we might gain a perspective not otherwise in our grasp.

Now, I don't want to have to consider some possibilities, unemployment or being hung as examples. But being hungry (let's say, metaphorically 'hungry') can provide some benefit.

More than two decades ago when I lived in another city, I had a job with what was to me quite a large corporation, over 100,00 employees. (I won't get into a debate as to whether there is anything more soul-depleting and mind-numbing an experience as working for such a large company, but I am quite tempted.)

I was there for some seven years. After a time, I decided it was time to leave, and made arrangements for another line of work. Part of my decision was based on my perception that not only would I not be able to advance in that current company, but that there were no real opportunities for me within my grasp. When it was time to leave, I gave the standard two weeks notice.

Once I gave notice, I was able to come the office for those two weeks without the usual feelings regarding the the burden of working there, and it was then as if an iron visor had lifted from my vision, and I could finally see (I could use the word 'envision', I guess) many possibilities and opportunities there. It was an amazing experience to realize that it was my vision, my ability to see, that was the most limiting factor in my last period of time there.