November 15, 2018
I got onto a Quora post about farms the other day. I can't find it, but it said something like, "Most farmers don't do well because they love farming as a lifestyle, not as a business".
I'm still thinking about that a few days later.
That quote made me consider how people choose careers. For some it's money or status, but for others, it's a sense of identity, of being. When kids are little, we don't ask, "What business do you want to be in" when you grow up, but "What do you want to be"?
Reminder: keep your identity small. Especially when it comes to work.
One guy who really gets this is my friend Kurt. His family owns a hydraulic hose repair business. They don't care a thing about hydraulic hoses; for them, it's a business first and foremost. They don't run it because it's fun, or interesting, or part of their family's identity. It's just their business.
That mentality is quite counter to the "do what you love"/"find your passion" narrative you find everywhere in San Francisco.
I don't think someone with that approach ("It's just my business") will ever produce an iPhone or make great art. They probably will run a successful business. They definitely won't let anyone else take unfair advantage of them, making the other guy rich while they subsist on table scraps.
I guess it comes down to priorities. But I think a little bit of disdain for your work is healthy. It keeps you from wasting time on things that don't matter and getting exploited. You remember there's more to life; I feel that more, now that I'm married.
The people who really amaze me are the guys who manage to get others to do everything for them, in work and in life. That's not how I want to live, but I do think it's a good trait of business leaders. There's a "healthy laziness" to that way of doing things that emphasizes getting the most done with the smallest amount of effort, that people who work to fulfill identity/passion needs too often forget.