Monday, December 17, 2007

To be (employed) or not to be, that is the question!

Caveat: This is a rather rambly and probably disjointed piece of random thoughts so if you are not interested in my personal opinion, please skip this post. All illustrations or examples mentioned do not refer to anyone in particular.

I received a call from someone who works in a hiring department of a prominent financial institution this afternoon. They were looking for someone to head their Corporate Communication department and wanted to consider me. I passed on the opportunity. The position comes with a five-figure monthly salary and the responsibility equivalent to that, reporting directly to the Group CEO.

Five years ago, I would have jumped at it. For now, I hesitate at the thought of:
1. having to become a 'rat' again and join the race to help the employer fatten its pot of gold
2.getting up in the morning, skipping breakfast to join the traffic jam to reach the office
3. worrying if my five-year-old is really in the good hands of hired help, especially if she, being mildly asthmatic, is sick
4. having to be responsible for the entire company's public image and communication functions
5. having to 'report' to a boss
6. missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime moments with my daughter and family

The list can go on but I shall stop. I'm sure you get the picture I'm painting. While we could really do lots more with the additional five-figure salary, I'm just not convinced this is the only way. This could be the fastest way but this is surely not the best way for the long term.

I had walked that road before and I don't think a fat paycheck is worth having if you have to put up with demanding bosses, sit and contribute your salary's worth in three-hour long management meetings, answer your boss's calls and SMS at midnight simply to assure him/her that the email has been sent out, manage staff who drift around wondering about their purpose in life....

Mix that with the stress of managing a household, frequently incompetent hired help, demands of family life and you'll get lots of grey hair. That's the mildest way to put it. Labels such as "supermum", "successful career mum" to me are over-hyped.

It is only when one lives out his/her passion, whatever that may be, is when he/she is successful. I am still searching for that 'passion'. Work will no longer become work or a job when it is done with love and enjoyment. Others will certainly ask what if your 'passion' cannot bring you the money you need to simply survive? There are many ways to make money. It is only whether one is able to think out of the box and not be shackled by the age-old idea that you are set for life only if you have a good education plus a well-paying job.

What is your self-worth based on? Long ago when I was in the career of "being an employee", I thought that having a grand title like "Vice President" (which I eventually did have), dressing up in designer suits, jet setting around the globe for "business" meant I had made it in life. Imagine if one day, all that disappears when your employer decides to end your career as an "employee"....

I came across this in a book I'm reading: "There is nothing noble about being superior to some other person. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self...if you want to improve your life and live with all that you deservce you must run your own race. It doesn't matter what other people say about you. What is important is what you say to yourself.... Never be ashamed of doing that which is right; decide on what you think is good and then stick to it....never get into the petty habit of measuring your self-worth against other people's net worth....

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