Work - or lifestyle?

Jul 15 2005 by Charles Helliwell Print This Article

Work...what is it ? Many would say that it's a painful experience we are obliged to live through from which we derive an income. Added to which, some would add somewhat ruefully that the greater the pain, the greater the reward, which in this case probably refers to the income.

But how different might it be if we kept the same outcome in mind - namely the generation of an income - but viewed the process somewhat differently.

In other words, instead of viewing work as a painful experience, we viewed it as an integral part of our lifestyle.

Ah yes...I hear the mutterings already of Utopian idealism in the corridors of power. But just stop and reflect for a moment how stunningly simplistic this proposition really is.

It actually doesn't require us to change anything at all about the way we go about deriving an income; it merely suggests that we alter our mental perspective a little by moving our focus away from the process of earning an income to the outcome of what earning an income provides us.

By concentrating our focus on something which should be giving us pleasure and happiness, shouldn't we derive pleasure from that experience? Yet, for the most part, we allow ourselves to get bogged down in the procedure and the downright drudgery of the laborious process needed to get us to our chosen outcome.

Our state-of-mind seems to become transfixed in the same groove - like a cracked record (although only those of us at a certain age will remember what those used to be).

So why does the same thing seem to happen with monotonous regularity across a span of sectors and industries which ordinarily would have absolutely nothing in common whatsoever ?

The answer is 'Golf Club Mentality'.

Golf Club Mentality, for those of you lucky enough never to have experienced such behaviours, is built on the buttresses of conventional tradition. The 'elected management team' responsible for the Golf Club have spent the past forty years growing into their traditions. They wait patiently for the previous old guard to depart, all the time bemoaning the lack of foresight, inspiration and creativity of their predecessors.

So what do they do, when it becomes their turn to takeover? They do exactly what their forebears did and embrace all the traditions they originally despised.

This cycle continues almost in perpetuity, because it has become a behavioural response to a situation where the outcome is deemed to be irrelevant. Process, procedure, convention and tradition become the metrics by which these individuals measure the power they wield and the results that power brings.

Whether the outcomes of their actions are to the benefit of the majority becomes almost inconsequential.

And so it is in business.

We spend so much time on the processes and protocols of reaching successful outcomes that we lose sight of what we intended to achieve when we started out. That is draining and energy-sapping, encouraging the residual mentality of politics, indecision and procrastination.

How can that be anything but painful ?

Ergo, work equals pain !

We can trace these behaviours right back to our formative years and even beyond, when we were encouraged, then taught and finally persuaded to believe that tradition is the only way forward and that challenging conventions, whilst applauded, is not to be encouraged and certainly not adopted.

So it is that the vast majority of us get sucked into the current of convention, where our entrepreneurial spirit is harnessed, broken, controlled and re-directed to fulfil the requirements of the organisations we work for; often with little focus, clarity, direction or understanding of the final outcome. Hard graft indeed.

And yet, putting aside the fundamental drivers of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, such as food, shelter, procreation etc, most people will say that what really motivates them is a desire 'to make a difference'.

Perhaps what that means is that most of us would prefer to have a lifestyle that also earns us an income. Anything less is only work, after all.


About The Author

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.