When I was working at my first job, I never got stuck in rush-hour traffic. I would leave home after the gridlock, and by 4 o’clock, I would be packing my bag early to beat the traffic home.
I maintained this schedule of 6-7 hours per day for years, and nobody questioned me about it for a long time. Firstly, I worked at a client site, so they never raised any eyebrows when I arrived long after everyone else – they just assumed that I had been working from home or at another building in the city.
Secondly, my outputs were immense. I’m not just bragging – my metrics were consistently at the top of the table for my team, so the notion that I was not warming a seat for a full 40 hour week was never on my boss’s radar.
That is, until I was found out. A major issue came up while I was driving to work, and I couldn’t resolve it on the phone in the car. Although we rarely got these types of problems, I hadn’t factored in how I would deal with the scenario I was facing, should it ever arise.
“Where the fuck is Tim?!” was the unanimous cry from my employer and client alike. Of course, they discovered that I was still commuting while they were all tearing their hair out at their cubicles, and I was subsequently sat down for an long, perfunctory lecture about time-management and client expectations, which resulted in nothing more than an informal warning and an increased level of vigilance from everyone about when I was arriving and leaving work.
I was paid a salary, not a wage. My team were employed to do a job, not punch a time-card, as our boss was always eager to remind us on the occasions when we had to stay late into the evening. Why did the same principle not apply the other way around? If my job was done, why did I have to stay in the office like a jaded footballer sitting on the substitute bench until the full-time whistle?
Taking that concept further, why were my colleagues, who routinely volunteered to work on the weekend, lauded as heroic for the sacrifice of their time, when their outputs were significantly lower than what I had achieved in 30-36 hours per week?
That’s when I learned that my workplace valued sacrifice (how much time you spent at your desk) more than results (how much work you actually got done).
In general, my colleagues would take a lot of breaks during the day, 2 hour lunches, and generally chit-chat their way until they could clock out. I would arrive an hour after them, break my face getting everything done as quickly as possible, and clock out an hour before them.
This is part of the reason that I struggle with the dynamics of the modern work paradigm – it isn’t about what you achieve as much as your subjective sacrifice.
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But once you escape the rat race, you realize that sacrifice without results is meaningless. If you make the switch to self-employment, no one is congratulating you for working 10 hours per day, or giving you an award for logging in for 5 hours on the weekend.
You actually need to perform since you will only be recognized for the results that you achieve.
Now, I’m not diminishing the need to make sacrifices in order to achieve results. Obviously, if you are unwilling to sacrifice the necessary amount of time to learn a new skill or produce content, you will not produce anything, or what you do produce will be of lowered quality. But pain isn’t a currency and unnecessary sacrifice is asinine.
To be clear, if you are employed in a situation similar to the one I described above, I don’t recommend that you follow the example of 20-year-old me. It was a pretty stupid game to play in the first place and I stopped doing it as soon as the major issue above occurred, but the reason I told the story is to highlight the difference between sacrifice and results.
What I would recommend is finding a role where your outputs are measured, rather than your inputs. If I personally ended up back in the corporate maze, I’d pursue a role in sales for this exact reason.
Speaking of results, this article is the 50th published here on TruthInjected. Thanks to all of you for your ongoing support. To those who are asking, yes, the next Opium of the People post will be coming either this Thursday or next Tuesday.