When someone asks you this, you probably switch on autopilot and answer the same way you always do. But, have you ever encountered someone who was truly offended by this seemingly straight-forward question?
“What do I do? Who cares, don’t you want to know about me?”
To them, occupation and identity are at odds.
Naturally this creates a division between work and leisure. This dichotomy grew magnificent roots in the mid-1800s, as the result of the Industrial Revolution. During this period, bare hands were replaced with robot arms to create more, with less.
Quantity over quality, speed over accuracy, and numbers over people.
In this process of dehumanization, an epidemic called Lack of Gumption started to spread expeditiously. You, too, have been exposed to Lack of Gumption but don’t worry, it’s not contagious although mild symptoms may appear after an episode of overexposure.
You may also recognize Lack of Gumption by its street name: The I Don’t Give A F*** Attitude. Walk into any given bank and there is a good chance that at least two of the four tellers suffer from Lack of Gumption. The only reason why the two of them are still sitting there is because they have bills to pay, and that on its own is a very unreliable source of motivation.
They will leave at 5:00 PM sharp, take their full lunch break, and never want to talk about their job outside the workplace. They will give you the least informative answers and spend double the time to perform any given task. You can recognize them by the dead facial expression, which is a direct reflection of their overt apathy. They just don’t care.
They are zombies. They don’t identify with what they are doing and that’s a problem because this lacklustre attitude produces poor quality. A society that is infected with Lack of Gumption is unable to thrive due to its paralyzing effects on quality output.
When you force people into labour for the sake of paying bills, you are fostering this type of disadvantaged society.
If we don’t follow our true passions that motivate us to produce high quality output, then we will continue to live in just a mediocre world. Of course you may think that we live in a fantastic world that is flawed, but is anything but mediocre. And this may be true on a superficial level, but emotionally speaking, we live in an unfulfilling world of glorified zombies in which self-fulfillment is a dream, not a goal.Switzerland has been in discussions over a contrast model that intends to cultivate gumption: the basic-income society. “Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young.” A basic-income policy would mean that people are no longer forced into a job that “just pays the bills” — instead people could pursue their interests without the intimidating overcast of bills and debt.
Switzerland is entertaining a bold move that could conceive a new generation, one that thrives on gumption. Imagine a society where everyone had a chance to pursue their sincere interests – think of all the hidden talent that would come to light. It could very well be a model to build a truly exceptional and productive society. No more horrible customer service!
Isn’t it time that we allow ourselves to identify with what we do again?
Have we not been told enough times that life is too short to spend it on doing things that we don’t care about?
Don’t force yourself to love the job you’re in, but find the job you love.
Happiness is having “as little separation as possible between your work and your play.” The two should be simply interchangeable.
Author: Paula Caligiuri PhD