Rubber Balls and The Job Market

A break from the emerging markets travelogue.

A few weeks ago I vowed to spend at least a little time each day helping people I know who have been affected by the current economy find new job opportunities. The local economy is nasty; I realized that half (literally) of my close friends are technically unemployed. Through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and email, I've been trying to connect people, and along the way I discovered Dave and Deb Levy's blog about married life under the pressures of job friction. I have known Dave for a while (he's a fellow Devils fan and hockey head); his admonition not to treat your friends who are between jobs as if they have the plague is sage advice.

And now for a travelogue in the middle of an emerging trend: I adore Kevin Carroll. I heard him speak five years ago at an NHL event, and was hooked. His point, then as now, is that we excel at play -- and we should treat work as something that we love, something that motivates us to play with others, something that gives us joy in the smallest facets. If you can't "play" at work, then you're in the wrong job, or positioning yourself the wrong way. Today's job market is an opportunity to re-think work, and the pleasure we get from our jobs. I'm reminded of a talk by Shoshana Zuboff, in which she said "It's not about division of labor, it's about division of love, if you are separated from the things you love to do." She was referring to management as a disintermediating function (this was pre-Internet boom, circa 1995), but the theme is organization chart invariant.

So onto a trend in middle of a travel-blog: Dave's wife Deb quotes a friend of hers describing the chaotic interplay of adult life themes - job, health, home, family. We juggle them all, and they are all glass balls, not to be dropped or mishandled. Except for work - a job is a rubber ball. Drop it, bat it, or have it swatted away, and it bounces in a new direction.

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