Life Priorities - Long: (was: Re: How not to attract staff!)

Subject: Life Priorities - Long: (was: Re: How not to attract staff!)
From: Mitch Berg <mberg -at- IS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 10:25:23 -0600

At the risk of incurring the wrath of Eric - if it seems that this
thread is straying too far from tech writing, I disagree. How we
arrange our lives around our careers is one of the fundamental choices
all of us make. As we only live once (shut up, Shirley MacLaine), there
is no more important topic...

Wing, Michael J wrote:

> Judging from the responses on this list, I am definitely in the
> minority. I am one of those Tech Writers that you see still working
> when you leave. I'm here many Saturdays. ... I also spent a year
> unemployed and Tech Writing jobs could not be found...
> Spend a year unemployed looking for a decent job...
> and then tell me if your attitude toward difficult work
> tasks/environment doesn't soften. If anyone thinks that an impossible
> deadline is stress, try facing a foreclosure and only one more
> unemployment check.

I spent 13 years in Radio, so I can write the book about hunting for
work under pressure. I've also faced eviction (after a client worked my
butt off, then chaptered out, stiffing me for $3K) with a newborn. I've
seen all of your arguments, and lived a few of them, Mike.

But you don't mention if you have kids. I have three, ages 15, 5 and
4. And do you know what? Whatever other travails I go through, I
realize that they're only children once, and I'm the only dad they'll
ever have.

So when a company sashays up with all sorts of "No-Fear" like
sloganeering about the glories of indentured servitude, I run the
following equation in my head: in 35 years, when I'm hopefully retired,
I can look back on one of two things:
* Years spent working my tail off on projects that nobody cares
about anymore, for companies that no longer exist, producing
something of, at best, transient value (in a cosmic sense), to fill
a resume that's of no use to me anymore, or
* Be a father, a role model, a real, tangible presence in the lives of
my children. Be home at 5:30 to take them to the museum. Take them
sledding on Saturday. Be a father first. Maybe lose a few career
options, but gain something far greater.

It's no contest. This time of their life is too important to be left to
some day-care provider - and it will never come back.

Yes, I've turned down jobs where the client - usually cocky 20-something
who's never been responsible for anything more vital than his/her
checkbook - exclaims proudly that "my people work 60+ hours a week".
Walked away, didn't look back. Life's too short. I'm 34, and the
greatest happiness in my life is my family. Then my guitar. THEN
work. In that order.

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