Filed under: brave new world | Tags: alain de botton, capitalism, modernism, new york, snobbery, success, work
In our work lives, the status quo is snobbery and the desired goal is love, explains Alain de Botton below. Snobbery is being judged based on superficials while all the richness of our inner lives roil hidden beneath the judgment: a vision from Dante’s hell. In essence, bosses reduce workers to one or two capabilities that meet their business needs, while workers yearn to use their genius and suffer through their days.
To break this unhappy – and untenable – blockage, one must see the real potential of a person’s inner life. This is accomplished by imagination, which breaks the bonds of the snob judgment and allows the real inner richness and creativity to be revealed and to play a part.
It’s a good lesson to know if you want to be happy in your workplace, or to make a pleasant workplace for the people who work for you.
Alain de Botton on the chasm between our rich interior selves and our jobs:
We live in a world surrounded by snobs. What is a snob?–A snob is someone who takes a small part of you and uses that to judge the whole of you. And the dominant snobbery nowadays is job snobbery.
This is a deeply frightening vision. Partly it’s frightening because most of us are unable to bring our true richness of character and personality in line with our business card. The business card does not fully reflect who we are. We are being judged, we feel, in a humiliating way. We feel there is so much in us that has not got an expression in capitalism. You know, capitalism is a machine that recognizes outward financial, external achievement. And most of us carry all kinds of richness which we are unable to translate into that language. There are very few of us whose full complexity of character has been brought out, as it were, on their business card. Most of us, what is special about us requires – it requires love. And by love, I mean imagination. It requires someone to say, even though that person looks a bit, it could be anything boring, uninteresting, unimportant, dull, actually that’s because I’m only looking at them in the first 30 seconds. They need more time.
So we need charity and we need complexity. And the cruelty of the modern world, the cruelty of New York City, for example, so this is a city where people give you 30 seconds and not much longer, if you’re not careful. And that’s very challenging, it cuts people up inside. It literally drives you crazy.
What are you worth? Getting past status anxiety, Alain de Botton
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