Are you working for peanuts?

Posted on May 15, 2012

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No — this isn’t an entry about competitive salaries or how to get a raise!

Charles Wheelan gives a different perspective on life in What They Don’t Tell You at Graduation – WSJ.com where he lists ten lessons young people need to know. Dare I say — it’s worth your time to listen to these lessons as well.  Thanks to Tom who brought this article to my attention.

I probably won’t do # 6 Read obituaries for quite a few more years.  And as a parent #7 Your parents don’t want what’s best for you made me really think — especially this Mom’s Day weekend.  I agree with his comments.  It takes great awareness to insure your children are growing to be THEIR best…not what you want them to be.

But I’ll tell you…#8 stopped me in my tracks!

#8. Don’t model your life after a circus animal.Performing animals do tricks because their trainers throw them peanuts or small fish for doing so. You should aspire to do better. You will be a friend, a parent, a coach, an employee—and so on. But ONLY IN YOUR JOBS will you be explicitly evaluated and rewarded for your performance. Don’t let your life decisions be distorted by the fact that your boss is the only one tossing you peanuts. If you leave a work task undone in order to meet a friend for dinner, then you are “shirking” your work. But it’s also true that if you cancel dinner to finish your work, then you are shirking your friendship. That’s just not how we usually think of it.

As a single working Mom for most of my working life…so often I felt like a guilty Mom when I was at work and of course at home, at the soccer field, or at the theater I felt like an inadequate Executive…that is how I usually thought of it.  Sometimes it felt like a no win…we consistently have competing priorities.

The wisdom in #8 is to remember that the way the world works ONLY IN YOUR JOBS do you get paid (or “punished”) weekly, biweekly or monthly for your performance.  You don’t get “paid” for sitting at soccer games or time at the kitchen table helping with homework, or for date night…but let those moments slip away and there a cost!
How are you managing the balance in your life?
As a manager, as a leader, as a recruiter…how do you evaluate individuals who strive for balance? How do you judge those individuals who are employees AND who strive not to “shirk” the other roles they play…who want to be friend, spouse, parent, child…or artist, gardner, athlete, explorer?