Attaching Passion to Work is Like Attaching Feelings to Sex
Quoting Bret Easton Ellis on Twitter:
One of the biggest shocks in my life was when a friend sincerely asked: "Wait a minute. You attached FEELINGS to sex? What are you? Crazy?"
In the old times — that we only know about from literature and history in my part of the world — marriages were arranged. They had little to do with sexual compatibility and physical/emotional attraction of a man and a woman, and a lot to do with social appropriateness. Sex wasn't something openly talked about. Today, with general openness about everything around sex, up to the point of emerging services like Bang With Friends, there is a trend towards, once again, detaching feelings from sex. In a different way. Having a good marriage then didn't necessarily include good sex (maybe now as well, for some). Today the priorities shifted, though, it's much easier to find good sex than stable relationships or true feelings. Still, we're all craving both — good sex AND feelings attached to it. Physical and emotional. Requiring everything in one person, in one period of time, is indispensable. We get disappointed on the way, but this is our ultimate search: mind, body and soul, in one person.
In the same vein, there's another feature that we share, a vice of 'the spoiled kids' who want it all in one, professionally. For comparison, my dad has been working for over 30 years at the same place, doing more or less the same thing. He had professional development and growth, of course (and more chances for promotion than he was willing to take), but he never really looked for anything else. He could be making more money, pursuing a greater career, he simply chose not to. It's not that he was very much satisfied or dissatisfied with his job. The notion just didn't apply. I think he never really asked himself if he wanted to do something different, something more meaningful or interesting. He has always been comfortable with his job as it was. For him, the job is something that you do 9 to 5, and then you go home and do something else. Work can be disappointing sometimes, but it is what it is. You just deal with it 9 to 5, and occasionally on a weekend when needed, and that's it. The expectations were set on that level, nothing more. Making a living doing something you don’t mind. Nobody promised great love.
For me, and most of my peers, the whole notion of work is very different. We are the unquiet ones. We look for a perfect match in a job. Yes, making a living. But also attaching passion to occupation. And, like the 'fire in a marriage' that needs persistence and work, keeping the fire alive at your job is not easy. And sometimes, well, you realize that it's just not meant to be, as they say. Then we go on looking.
Companies like Google, Facebook, Zappos, 37signals and the like became the celebrities of the professional world, having ordinary folk drool over their fascinating virtues (looks and personalities), post their images (i.e. logo and branding) everywhere from laptop covers to the distinguished placement over-the-bed wall, a lot in the style of Justin-Bieber posters. These names always make the headlines, the pictures of their premises are abundant, and, to quote the music celeb, everyone wants a piece of them. Of course, company-celebrities are different from people-celebrities, at least in that they imply polygamous relationships with a much bigger (and real) chance for their fans. And if you get involved, you know from the start that it's not your ticket to stardom, you actually have to work hard, every day. The relationships can have their ups and downs, expectations to be met on both sides (think Yahoo! and their recent 'no remote work' policy). You get the idea…
The point is, somehow we became more demanding in our jobs. We are willing to work, but only when there is a general feeling of connecting on a level much deeper than financial remuneration. Being well-paid is just not good enough. We demand passion, we demand having meaning, and creating meaning. To me, this makes more sense than working in the style of school detention, waiting for the moment when it’s over to go and play with your friends.
Then, there are also the brave ones, the entrepreneurs, those who, in the sci-fi spirit, take the crazy and adventurous path of creating ideal partners for themselves. But this calls for another metaphor of raising a child… Whatever your job is, and whether you work for yourself or are employed by a company, attaching passion to work might not be for everyone, just like attaching feelings to sex. In the end, though, you might find your perfect match, and this is worth the quest.