Work Is Fun

I watched a news report on Bill Marriott not too long ago and it finished up with one of the big bromides of today’s business world. When asked about what drives him, Mr. Marriott answered that he was having fun, that if you’re not having fun then you shouldn’t do it.

Now that’s something that I’ve heard many times. It’s something the boss has said at a number of jobs that I’ve held over the years, that they think we should be having fun at our work.

It’s an easy thing to say when you’re the boss. It’s an easy thing to say when you don’t have to worry about losing your job, either because you’re the boss or because, like Bill Marriott, you have enough money to never need to work.

One of the things that bothers me most about this meme is that it ignores the reality that there are some jobs that need to get done that just aren’t going to be fun for anyone. Or if you want to play the game and insist that for every job there’s someone that would find it fun, at the least you’ll have to admit that there are some jobs that if you just take the people that will find it fun, you won’t have nearly enough workers to get it all done. I mean how many people would really find it fun to sort the garbage at the city recycling center into the appropriate categories that are needed to actually recycle the materials? Now what percentage of those important but decidedly unglamorous jobs would be left unfilled if everyone took the advice to only do work that they find fun?

I asked God. She said it was around three percent.

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