Teach Your Kids About Good Work, Not Good Jobs

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And, of course, in the ranks of that Fortune 500 company most employees are people who have taken “bad jobs” – the jobs that do the actual work of making things or serving customers. Some of them might, in fact, be dreaming of climbing the ladder to management, or retraining for another career. But the executives had better hope that some of their best people are happy with a “bad job” – or the only people left to do the work will be capable (but not extraordinary), barely interested…and resentful that they are working a “bad job.”

Think about how often you encounter a lack of good customer service, or a lengthy waiting list for the only reliable contractor in town. Think about how much you have to pay a plumber if your pipe breaks on a weekend – because ABC Plumbing’s rate is based on demand, there are fifteen people with similar problems who want it fixed now, and there aren’t enough plumbers to go around.

Now think about the last time you made something. Maybe you baked for the first time in ages, or tried that Pinterest craft that actually worked. Maybe you took up knitting or you saved some money on a renovation by laying your own floor. Whatever it is, think of the satisfaction you felt when the job was done – when the thing that you made was finished.

I want my son to have a good job, but my definition of “good” is different. I want him to be proud of what he does, whether he’s a phenomenal doctor or the best electrician in the city. I want him to be happy where he works, whether that’s on a computer, like me, or in the gloopy muck around the new foundation he’s pouring. I want him to make enough money as he defines it: the roof over his head could be 500 square feet or 5,000, the food he eats could be macaroni casserole or lobster and steak, the clothes he wears could be $40 scrubs or $4,000 suits.

And when he’s done, I always want him to be able to look at what he did, smile with the same satisfaction he does now, and say, “I did good work today, Mom.”

(photo: Getty Images)

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