The Skeptical Methodologist

Software, Rants and Management

Don’t work for Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Care of HBR, Dr. Tom argues that we should all be embracing work life imbalance. I don’t want to put on my Freudian deconstructionist hat, but I have a feeling Dr. Tom is using a blog to win an argument with his significant other who’s wondering why he can’t be home on time for dinner. He might also be cheating on them. Because… well, why can’t he be home for dinner on time?

Let’s pick apart his arguments one by one, shall we?

Hard work is not at all a career weapon

First off, framing this argument in terms of what ‘weapons’ you have at your disposal belies Tom’s combative view towards work. We all have ‘weapons’ to get ahead. Why Tom argues that we need weapons when we should be enjoying work is beyond me.

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to career  ‘weapons’ is that no, we are not all equally smart or qualified to do a job. Jobs in the technical – and increasingly other – fields are constantly changing, which means their qualifications are constantly changing. Moreover, how smart you are at a job is not an innate skill, but a process. You must constantly stay educated in your field on new techniques, as well as mastery of old ones.

Hard work, to me, is a sign you have no better ideas. It’s the weapon of last resort, because after you’ve used it, you’re too tired to come up with any way to be more productive.

Engagement is important, but a rich life is more important

I agree, at least in spirit, with Dr. Tom’s notion that we should all be enjoying work. Work ought to be fun. But there is fun that just isn’t going to happen at work – work won’t give you children, it won’t give you companionship, it won’t give you culture. It you can find a job where you get the opportunity to watch witty independent comedies or play a few games of halo with your college buddies, let me know. Otherwise work will always be lacking in one or more dimensions of what it means to be human. What we create, as individuals, can be part of a fulfilling life. But it can only be part!

The reason why it’s so hard to stop checking your smart phone is because you’re rude

Simple as that. It’s not that life used to be boring, or in this case, apparently Dr. Tom’s friend he hasn’t seen in years is very boring. It’s that you are boring: you who keeps your chin to your chest quickly thumbing away at a tiny keyboard arguing over word smithing some TPS report.

Smartphones and texting are relatively new. Mores and culture have not caught up, but they are doing so quickly. It is rude to ignore your conversation partner and text, just like it’s rude to burp in their face, even though it’d be nice to not have to worry about that. Don’t be a dick.

Using your psychological and academic credentials to justify your lack of work life balance is a self indulgent act

Those who are complaining in this era of ever extending hours yet ever shrinking productive use of those hours by Baby Boomer managers who barely swing 40 hours and spend most of those 40 hours reading the Wall Street Journal at their desk are on to something.

If you find yourself attracted to Dr. Tom’s arguments, I implore you: get a dog.


February 14, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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