Is This Corporate Slavery Worth It?

Tayo Bamiduro was sharing recently and said “everyone” should look forward to a time in their life when they will not do the 9–5 grueling work schedule. I was surprised at that — coming from the CEO of a Tech. start-up, where “you don’t have a life” is the culture. Anyway, I am happy he shares my sentiments.

When I was growing up, my dad had one of the best jobs and no matter what, once it was 5.30pm he was home. Infact, he comes home to pick up his bags to go play Tennis — Yes! in this Lagos. As if that wasn’t enough, he would come home at about 2pm to eat lunch and go back to his office in CMS area.

I was speaking with one of my mentors, an Ex- Executive Director of one Nigeria’s biggest companies and he told me that earlier in their careers — most of them closed by 5pm. He said it was when men like Tony Elumelu etc. became CEOs — that they gave birth to this work culture of driving employees into late hours and no work-life balance for aggressive, inorganic corporate growth and expansion. I respect and honour these men by the way and nothing will take that away.

If you look at the average “successful” young executive — who has a good job in a none of the following: oil company (Major ones of course), International NGO or Public Sector Institution, you will see the corporate slavery thing. I wonder — is it really worth it? They earn a lot but don’t have the time to enjoy the money. Really sorry to say this but I think most of them are actually working to maintain the status of “big boy or girl”. Think about it, you have a good car, which you’re likely leasing; a very nicely furnished house and some good bank balance at the end of the month. But here is the thing, you are likely not in a good relationship, hardly at home to enjoy the very nicely furnished apartment and your very good car is just for carrying you inside traffic to and from work. You leave the house before 7 am and except something happens, will likely never be home before 8pm. You get home and can barely do anything but sleep off. Weekends, you have to honour all kinds of invitations to “save face” (i.e. please people) and the only time you have is Sunday, which in some cases also goes along like the Saturdays. Same happens day in and day out and you only have a 15–21 working days’ leave and if you’re lucky Christmas Holiday. That is all, out of 365 beautiful days in a year.

So here is my question is it REALLY worth it? Especially if you don’t have savings and investments from this “corporate slavery”. To make matters extremely worse, some people work in what I call “mushroom functions”. Their jobs may be replaced by artificial intelligence or technology or just structural change in the economy sooner or later. Before you say Jack Robinson.., their skills are outdated and its like they have to start all over again. Or they become “too old” — that’s like 35–40 years; and some young brilliant entry level executive is hired to replace them for a fraction of their salary because he understands social media and can market and sell on that platform.

We work so hard but just to afford the “so called comfortable things of life” that we HARDLY ever have time to enjoy. You have full subscription for your cable but watch less than 15% of the total time. You have a nice car but drive less than 20% of the time because you’re stuck at the office.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if your work is not fun and takes the most productive time of your life away from you — I think you need to think deeply. Here is another thing, it doesn’t get easier when you climb up the corporate ladder. Infact at that stage more demands are made on you as “the boss”.

If their excellencies — Tony Elumelu or Jim Ovia or Aliko Dangote should decide not to work for the rest of their lives, their children’s children will still not need to work — because of how much wealth they already have. But guess what — these men are chasing “only Heaven knows what” and will continue to drive you and I to “only Heaven knows where”. I honestly think they are in subtle competition with themselves and you and I are the engines. They claim they are trying to build legacies, when people like Mary Mag. Broke the Alabaster Box and was told, “this thing you have done will never be forgotten FOREVER” or what of Rahab ? These women cemented their legacies differently. True lasting Legacy is in serving God — after which he will give a legacy and not in chasing mammon. If you don’t get, ask Mary Slessor or Mother Theresa!

Here is my recommendation — get so good at your job and become indispensable to the point where if you leave, your company will still retain your services as a contractor and will work with your own terms. It also doesn’t have to be your company by the way. If you are an employer, reduce your profits by hiring a little more people than you need to reduce the pressure on all employees and distribute the work load considerably. There is a corporate rebellion brewing and this millennial generation will revolt soon. They will rather sit at home in the remnant of their rich parents wealth than go to work under these crazy hours. The Generation-X, which I am sorry to say, is almost a lost one in the corporate world (because they were caught in between the analogue and digital revolution among other changes and most didn’t recognize it), will not have the capacity to manage this Play Station, Instagram, Selfie-possessed, distracted, easily get bored generation — The Millennials.

If you chose to have enough to meet your most essential needs, you can afford to have a life that will allow you enjoy the little you have, with the ones you care about.

Your most productive years are now, you can eat your cake and have it on this one. Don’t trade it for corporate slavery!

I am a hard and smart worker but in my mind it takes the Grace of God to succeed — God grants favour for our labour. I also do strategic and not operational work.