The cynical self

I want to break free ...

I want to break free …

Yesterday we had a full day business meeting with international visitors. The meeting started at 9.00am, and we had a working lunch and concluded at 5.00pm, at which time we left for an upmarket city restaurant for dinner.

Our distributers were trying to impress us. They’d brought their CEO and Chairman. Our management team was trying to appear superior to the distributors, while also trying to impress our boss and scoring points on each other in the process. And our boss was trying to impress the guys from head office, who were constantly looking at their watches. As best I could make out, no one wanted to be here.

About 3.00pm I wanted the music to stop. I wanted to scream ‘Why are we doing this?’, but resorted to injecting a few thought-terminating clichés to wind it up. Didn’t work. The show rolled on.

After a day of platitudes and thinly veiled assurances of improved support and performance, which remain the emotional capital of the business world, with little to no action until the next quarterly meeting where we do this dance again, it was difficult to look forward to the impending meal.

At dinner, everyone was toasting everyone else; too many times to be comfortable. Big smiles, forced conversation, more platitudes. The Chairman made another speech reaffirming his commitment to us and the greater cause. As if it matters. So that led me to wonder: do we? Do we matter?

In our daily lives, questions of personal worth are recurrent, if rarely articulated. We’re so defined by work that our identities without it are in question. Unless we have something else to anchor us, we’re in danger of becoming what we do, not who we are.

We find that ultimately unsatisfying. Because as we get older, time spent at work consumes a proportion of our lives we can rarely afford. We go home tired, eat, sleep and do it all again. Holidays come rarely and when they do we wonder why life can’t always be like this.

I want to rebel. Just a minor revolt. I want to grow my hair long, become a hippy and follow the sun surfing. My wife says I can, for one week in the second half of each year. I can’t do more because of ‘commitments’. Commitments that will get me committed.

Deprived of a clear sense of purpose, apprehensive about the significance of our lives, we’re desperate for reassurance that there is a reason behind what we feel we must do. Are we working for the weekend or living in the now?

I don’t know. I’d rather have it all, and now. So I keep working while I search for the answer. I’ll let you know if I find it.


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6 Responses to “The cynical self”

  1. adamnrave Says:

    Please do let me know if you find it. As for that dinner, you can certainly keep that. I sometimes wonder if success in business is determined not by smarts, but by what one can tolerate. I could not tolerate the day you describe. Consequently, I have fewer commitments, but less success as it might be described by your colleagues. It’s a different kind of work, and way of working. It’s no less a search for meaning!

    • WorkLifeBankBalance Says:

      There are many snakes in business, and quite a number of toads as well. A good proportion of skunks, rats with gold teeth and the off box jellyfish just waiting to sting you. We have monkeys typing the bible a few metaphoric chickens, certainly a number of peacocks and a slug named Wayne. You get the picture.

  2. paulhassing Says:

    Dear WLB2, how I feel your pain! But I tell you solemnly: if you buy one of these, all will make sense and all will be forgiven. Except, of course, by your lovely wife. And your neighbours. Then again, what have the latter ever done for you?! Never seen a man beat a snake before. Until I met you. Kind regards and have a nice day, P.

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