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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Functionality

Taken from the recently reviewed Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver:

“I’ve about decided that’s the main thing that separates happy people from the other people: the feeling that you’re a practical item, with a use, like a sweater or a socket wrench.”

Boss #1 returned from his conference today, where he has been since last Wednesday, and suddenly I have a whole new flurry of assignments to do, invoices to fill out, and mailings to send. It’s almost relieving to have to think again.

Can stress be like medicine? I think I now understand the college students who wrote their term papers “better” under the pressure of those few hours right before the assignment was due. I find that I function better when people expect me to be productive, to turn in work, to give them what they ask for. It doesn’t matter what these things are—an email, a fax, a list, an analytic report—just these expectations make me feel useful.

It’s when I get an inane assignment that no one really cares about, one that takes little-to-no brainpower and that is of absolutely no consequence to anyone that both my mind and my body begin shutting down. I literally begin to fall asleep as I try to accomplish the task. Either that, or else I begin to panic. What am I doing here? Am I settling for this job? For this life? Shouldn’t I be aspiring for higher purposes? Aren’t I meant to be doing better things? Is this what I really want? Will this get me to what I really want?

Feeling functional and at least the slightest bit important is soothing; it is pacifying. That is the key to a happy employee, I think. Every company could be full of satisfied, productive employees if only that company made each and every one of them feel 1) essential to the company and 2) capable of contributing to their position. I am sure the most successful companies out there take this to heart. However, as I make this observation, I wonder if I am meant for the management-type position everyone is supposed to aspire to. After all, if I want to be given tasks to complete, I can’t be the giver of those tasks, can I? And being a manager means relying on other people to get work done. Heaven knows I abhor doing that.

Where oh where is this life is this going to lead?

1 comment:

K said...

I think you're in my head. I ask those same questions of myself every single day.