Theory of Employment Relativity Print E-mail
I visited a museum recently where an exhibit on the accomplishments and life of Albert Einstein was on display. There was one panel of some of his quotes, many of them displaying his obvious dry sense of humor. One of them gave me great pause, however, because it is almost totally opposite of what is the trend today. The quote was: "It is best, it seems to me, to separate one's inner striving from one's trade as far as possible. It is not good when one's daily break is tied to God's special blessing."

Einstein himself spent his early career as a patent clerk. He had barely passed college and his grades were not good enough to secure a teaching job. He was a substitute teacher for awhile before landing the job with the patent office. It seems this suited him quite well, though, because it was a low-stress, non-mentally challenging job and he could do it while working on his theories concerning the nature of light during breaks and off-time. In other words, he did one thing to put meat on the table and used his spare time to really delve into his love of physics. Considering his quote above, I wonder if he would have ever come up with his breakthroughs in relativity if he had been a whiz in college and landed a professorship right off the bat. Would working every day, day in and day out, in the world of physics burned him out on his inner striving?

The trend today in employment advice is to tell clients do what you love and the money will come. I wonder if that is really true. If you do what you love for a living, what do you do for fun? Is there anything left?

I once wrote a resume for one of the most unique jobs I've ever known and one that I thought would be fantastic to have - a Lay's potato chip taster. The client was a lady in Georgia and her job was to sample each batch of hot, fresh chips as they came out of the oven and through the salter mechanism. I love potato chips and that just sounds like a wonderful job to me, but the lady hated it. She said she no longer liked potato chips and couldn't wait to get a job doing something else. Maybe that is what Einstein was talking about. Too many potato chips could spoil the flavor.

I have a relative who is a very smart man. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and spent four years in the military in a technical field. For a few years after graduating college, he worked in his major field of study - professional photography. One day, he simply quit. He said the stress was too much and he no longer loved what he did, even though it was something that he had wanted to do for years and was quite talented in it. Since that day over twenty years ago, he's driven a forklift in a warehouse job. He's turned down multiple opportunities for promotion into management. He has not picked up a camera since. Another example of too many potato chips.

I don't advocate working in a job that you hate. That's not good in any situation. At the same time, if you are working in a so-so job to support your family or to make ends meet, don't consider that shameful. We've lost sight of the fact that work simply for the sake of work is an honorable thing. You will not always be employed in a world-saving, money-making, high-minded, soul-satisfying job. Sometimes you just have to do the job, go to work, keep your head down, and save fun for evenings and weekends.

I think maybe Einstein had a handle on this, too, because he also said, If A equals success, then the formula is _ A = _ X + _ Y + _ Z. _ X is work. _ Y is play. _ Z is keep your mouth shut.