Effortless Perfection.. or the One Tiny Thing

I was talking to a young woman today and heard something I’ve been hearing a lot from those who are a generation younger than me.

“Yes, but I don’t like…”

This was in direct reference to a conversation we were having about her job prospects and my advice to her in how to expand her options. I was a bit taken aback because she was clearly in need of the ‘any means necessary’ attitude but had more of the ‘that doesn’t sound fun’ mindset.

Don’t get me wrong (as my husband often says) I’m all for fun: after all this is the person who has had two sets of passport page addendum because of all the places she’s been. I love fun; it’s what makes all the hard work worthwhile.

But when did we get the idea that fun was all there is? That if at work or at home there is something we don’t like to do, we can just avoid doing it because we want to?

I’m puzzled by this phenomena because there have been lots of things in my life that I’ve had to do in order to get where/what I want. We’re not talking about anything illegal of course, or even morally compromising.

We’re talking about spending hours on emergency residence life call to get free housing to pay for graduate school. Or doing the mind numbing administrative drudgery of a startup so that the company gets off the ground.

“I can’t do finance, my brain doesn’t work that way,” another young person told me a few weeks back.

Okay, we all have strengths and weaknesses. And granted, knowing which is which is a huge asset. But to back away from helping when you are able, but it may come with a bit of personal discomfort, is a bit alien.

Paying your dues is what we often call it. And I’ve been caught in the middle of defending people standing up for themselves – I don’t want to do that or be treated in this manner because anyone is deserving of respect – and now seeing that humility means being willing to do any simple task.

I’m not sure if it’s the leadership in question: that these young people aren’t inspired to find dignity in humble tasks as a means of getting to their desired short and long term ends. I certainly had inspiring and servant leadership models who were practicing what they were asking their participants to do.

What I do know is that I’m glad I had the school of hard knocks (though surely others have had it harder) and if it comes to staying an hour later or planning a week earlier, these are the dues I’m still willing to pay. There is no substitute for passion. But few can be found for hard work either.

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