Why Do We Work?
Why Do We Get Up And Go To Work Instead Of Doing What We Want?
I recently went on a very much needed vacation to Hawaii and I did a really good job of not working (mostly because my computer wouldn’t power on during my 9 day stay… true story). While it did stress me out that my computer might be broken, all I could do is leave it until I got home — not having an Apple Store with a Genius Bar on the Island helped make that decision a fairly easy one. But my brain is always spinning about something that has to do with work, business, investing, self improvement and life in general. Wow! I just realized I covered just about everything. Well, on this particular day at the beach i started wondering why do we work?
Having the sun on my back, the ocean breeze in my face and the sand between my toes, I decided to dig deeper. This is a combination of research and personal opinions. So why do we work? The “go to” answer is always going to be money for the majority of the people, but that’s not a good enough answer… right?
What inspires us to get our of beds in the morning?
Why don’t we just do what makes us happy? I’m sitting there watching my kid surfing away and enjoying life carefree of any responsibilities. Before he went out we rented a surfboard from a local surf shack rental place, which is exactly what your picturing. A cozy little shack across the street from the beach that’s painted bright orange with palm trees, surfboards, and of course a hammock. As i was sitting there pondering the balance of work and life the guy that rented us the board was out in the water surfing and teaching a few tourist how to surf. Every time one of his students would catch a wave he would cheer, clap and be genuinely happy for them; his customers.
One of the first of many things that popped my brain is how do we bottle that? How we apply this to our work life? How can a motorcycle dealer apply this kind of excitement to his customers? I sat there thinking, “this guy really enjoys his job and his life. He is working and living his passion and is enjoying the heck out of it!”
Well, if you’re like me, you have to look at all the angles. I don’t like being a Debbie Downer / Pessimist but i have to think to myself that his life can’t be as perfect as it seems. I sure wish I would have thought about interviewing him for this article. Anyway I wonder to myself if he stresses about money? What are all his responsibilities? How does he market his lessons? Does he market his business? Or is he just happy eating teriyaki chicken and rice bowls, surfing and watching sunsets? Either way, there was a part of me that envied him and his seemingly carefree job and lifestyle.
So why do the rest of us work?
When you ask people who are fulfilled by their work why they do the work they do, money is almost never comes up. Satisfied workers are engaged by their work, they lose themselves in it. Of course this is not the case all the time, but its safe to say the majority of the time. Now don’t get me wrong, if a raise was presented, they would take it, appreciate it, and most likely it would be well earned. The money is just a cherry on top.
For some of us work is meaningful. There are people motivated and fulfilled by helping others or a cause — look at all the volunteers and employees with Greenpeace International or who have joined the Peace Corps. More than 235,000 Peace Corps volunteers serve in 141 countries around the globe. An addtional 15,000 volunteers are in Greenpeace. These people get up because their work makes other peoples’ lives better and they are motivated by making a difference in the world.
For some its the motivation to succeed and have recognition from others, for either their achievements or move up the corporate ladder. These people are just driven for a title and recognition, but also might enjoy always learning and developing.
I believe that there are a lot of people out there that get up in the morning to go to work because their co-workers become part of their social engagement, they are friends, they are part of a team and part of a culture. This is particularly true in some of the better dealerships I visit. These people feel a sense of passion for their work and they spend their days helping to move their organizations forward.
Others work to play. People go to work so they can have some money to do the things they like. Vacations, golfing, travel, and like many people from this industry race or just ride Motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, Snowmobiles and even personal watercraft in the warm Hawaiian waters.
As I was writing this article, I had an opportunity to tour the Dunlop motorcycle tire factory in Buffalo, NY. While touring the plant I met production line workers. Now that got me thinking what makes those guys wake up in the morning. It could be any of the reasons listed, but it got me thinking about the recent Gallop survey that found that only 13% of factory workers feel engaged by their jobs.
That means an astonishing 63% of these workers are not engaged. They are checked out, sleepwalking through their days, putting little energy into work. Worse than not being engaged are those who are actively disengaged, actually hating their jobs. I’m not saying that is the case for these factory workers, but I can see how a repetitive job can easily allow you to sleepwalk through your days.
Last but not least as I’m sure there is probably about 100 more reasons to go to work that I’m not coming up with. Of course there a very few jobs that feature 100% of the reasons that are important to you.
So why do you get up to go to work?