I Call Nonsense

Let's dissect some internet tropes.

March 14, 2022

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I’m calling out some nonsense, and what better place to start than the internet? It is home of social media, which is unequalled for nonsense.

“I am not impressed by your money, your position or your title. I am impressed by how you treat others,” or something like that, so a popular internet quotation/meme/slogan goes. I’ve noticed that the people who post such clichés also like to post quotations attributed to business celebrities, such as Steve Jobs.

In his book,"The Hidden Habits of Genius," Yale Professor Craig Wright dedicates several pages to examples of what an incredible jerk Steve Jobs was. According to Wright, Jobs treated his employees as minions and his so-called loved ones no better. Wright paints Jobs as a nasty, petty man who believed that he was not bound by ordinary rules of decorum, because his genius gave him a free pass to behave as he pleased.

Apparently Professor Wright agrees because, apart from those few pages meant to confirm his point that geniuses often aren’t very nice, he spends the rest of the book gushing over Jobs.

Before any of us sanctimoniously declare that we are only impressed by good manners, we should probably stop to consider the behavior of those boors we watch on television or follow on Twitter. While we’re at it we should probably examine our own behavior.

“Clients don’t come first, employees do.” This old internet snippet is often attributed to Richard Branson, although I don’t know if it is accurate to blame him for it. The customer pays your paycheck. He provides the work that gives you a job. Without the customer you are toast. In business? You are there to serve the customer.

If you have to choose between customers and employees...say, there’s the stupid part of these overly simplistic sayings! You don’t have to choose between customers and employees. You need them both. Prioritizing one over the other is like deciding whether the wheels or the engine are more important on your car. You won’t go anywhere without both.

“Work/life balance” is another great cliché that has spawned garbage trucks full of bad advice, as though work is not a part of life. 

Take a deep breath, folks. There, that breath proves that you are alive. Everything you do, including work, is a part of life. Want to be successful? Successful people are hard workers. Work gives meaning to life, a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and the satisfaction of a job well done. Not feeling it? Perhaps you should try putting more, not less, time and effort into your work.

Long ago, during a raft trip on the Rio Grande River, a guide succinctly explained his philosophy to me: “I figured out that if was willing to live in my car all summer I could go rafting every day.” That’s it. 

Was that work/life balance? No, no matter how you look at it. You could say that he gave up all of life’s amenities just to work. That’s not balance. Ah, but he is spending every minute doing what he loves most, and getting paid to do it. That isn’t balance either.

Do you really know anyone who is happy with their life who is balanced, whatever that means? Most are zealously dedicated to one or two ventures or causes about which they are passionate.

“Follow your passion.” Now there’s a cliché I can get excited about.