Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 6, 2010 1:45 PM

Hard Labor

"You work too much." "You must be a workaholic." "Do you ever sleep?" "When do you take a break?"

Right now...

  • Someone is caring for a very sick, little girl with leukemia.
  • Someone is chasing down a very drunk driver.
  • Someone is taking care of their dying Mother.
  • Someone is cleaning out the kennel at a local shelter for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • Someone is trying to fix a highway in the sweltering heat.
  • Someone is counseling a child who has been molested.
  • Someone is offering care to the people in Pakistan that are homeless due to the flood.
  • Someone is running into a burning building to save a family.
  • Someone is still rebuilding homes in New Orleans.
  • Someone is helping a soldier deal with the loss of their limbs.
  • Someone is answering the phones at 911.
  • Someone is caring for the very sick and under-nourished people in the third world.
  • Someone is dipping into their meager teaching salary to buy art supplies for their underprivileged students.
  • Someone is trying to right a wrong.

I don't work hard. Odds are you don't work that hard either.

I half-jokingly tell people that I am "unemployable." The truth is, I have been that way since long before I owned my own business. Even when I was an employee of a company (small, middle-sized and large), I always acted in a highly entrepreneurial way. The clock wasn't something I watched. I was busy trying to ship (to get things done). Why do something for most of your waking hours that makes you miserable? It's easy for me to say that. I'm lucky... right? Maybe I am now (depending on which side of the grass you're standing on), but I was always this way - even when I didn't have a job or any money in the bank (in fact, I was in debt).

Forget your job.

I'm not sure when that little nugget got planted in my cerebral cortex, but I never really took a job (and when I did, it didn't last). I was always looking for the work I was meant to do. I preferred to be on death's door of desperation than take a job that I knew I was going to hate, or take a job just because the money made the most sense. It's not an easy thing to say (or do). Many of you reading this may have family members and bank loans that are depending on your ability - each and every week - to bring home the proverbial bacon (and I fully understand that predicament), but I just wouldn't/couldn't do it. Good on you for going at it like that, I've never been able to.

Don't think about your job. Think about the work you were meant to do.

OK, someone, somewhere blessed you with this day off. Do with these 24 hours what you will. I prefer to take an hour (sometimes two) every single Labor Day to ask myself this one question: "are you doing the work you were meant to do?" Knowing if you have the right answer is pretty obvious. I don't consider being the President of Twist Image hard work. I don't consider doing close to 80 speaking events every year hard work. I don't consider Blogging hard work. I don't consider Podcasting hard work. I don't consider writing my business columns for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun every other week hard work. I don't consider writing or marketing business books hard work. I don't consider all of my contributions to industry associations and charitable organizations hard work. I love it. It is a pleasure. It is - without a doubt - the work I was meant to do. I also weigh my work against the amazing types of people I listed above. They motivate me to keep on doing what I love to do, because I am in awe of people who work so selflessly. They do the type of work that I could never imagine doing myself. I respect that beyond comprehension. On the other hand, I think about people who have a job and treat it like a job, and I always think about this: "they're trying to make it to the weekend... I'm trying to make it."

So, as I wish you a very happy Labor Day, I'll also ask you this one question: how hard do you work?

By Mitch Joel