Why Stupidity Rules … Sometimes
Never thought I would be extolling the virtue of being stupid and I’m not convinced that I am. This article however made me think that one through just a bit. I’m not sure that stupid is a kind or fair word but I suppose it made for a catchy title, a means to get people to read the damned thing (like mine). This article applies stupidity to career and somehow comes up with success. What? How many books are on the market that insist getting ahead means getting a formal education (especially a Bachelor of Business or even better, an MBA), working 50+ hours a week and always “thinking outside that box.” You know, justifying why you should get a raise during your annual review (with documentation to prove it), offering your assistance to colleagues or even people outside your department; and the classic, “don’t dress for the position you have, dress for the position you want.” I suppose this works for people. I work for a public institution so I wouldn’t know. My guess is many people do very well with this type of behaviour and many people don’t. Many people have been laid off and they have worked for their organization for years. Many people have been forcibly retired when they reach age 65 even though they are perfectly functional and do an exemplary job. Think of the devastation and the slap in the face to a person’s loyalty. Hm. Perhaps there is something to this stupidity thing. (NOT this type of stupidity).
This article insists that moving up the ranks (if you must) more slowly than those on the fast track and enjoying each mundane job thrust upon you can actually bring about more job satisfaction than being an ambitious “go-getter.” That’s because people with an average to somewhat above average intelligence don’t expect as much in the way of success at their jobs and so long as they’re employed and making a reasonable living, they’re happy, dadgummit. Certainly that cannot be true of everyone. I mean, many people do not look forward to Mondays (goodbye blessed weekend). Work is a chore and a bore. The routine gets old fast, no matter how “stupid” or how brilliant a person may be. That’s true of everyone in my experience, “stupid” or not.
Along with the stupidity blog was an article entitled Is Too Much Ambition Making You Miserable? This one examines that cliche about being on “the fast track” (to nowhere). This article states that ambition often comes at the expense of close relationships…. the pursuit of materialistic values like money, possessions, and social status–the fruits of career successes–leads to lower well-being and more distress in individuals. Hm. Maintaining balance in one’s life seems to be a possible solution to such havoc. Perhaps there is something to be said for all that. I flatter myself that I am not stupid (naive perhaps, but not stupid). I am a humble soul. I make a good salary yet I am content to live in a small bachelor apartment and keep my expenses reasonably low. I don’t seem to have a materialistic bone in my body (except shoes of course…but at least I find them on sale). I have a responsible, white-collar job and I aim to move upward in my career. However, I am also happy to move at a reasonable pace. It’s the type of job where I need not just the qualification but the experience to take on a more responsible position. Fine. I’ll get there when I get there. I suppose there are lots of people around like me. Perhaps that’s why, in spite of earning 3 university degree to date, and having a higher goal in sight, I am not stressed and I am certainly not in a hurry. Works for me (pun).
A blog that analyzes why happy people are happy listed (of course) some traits that we happy people seem to possess. Dumb little man (his label, not mine), states very definitely that not pursuing status, strip away expectations, and don’t fight your environment (no, not fighting to save the environment). I really liked the “strip away expectations“, referring to easing up on the goal-setting habits of successful, miserable people. A decade or two ago, I remember reading some kind of book that stated it was important to list goals for the rest of the year, five years later, and 10 years later. It kept a person on track and determined a path. I followed this idea religiously. I constantly made this list, completely erasing it and starting over with something new upon a whim, depending on my burgeoning interests and whichever direction my life was headed. It didn’t work.
This isn’t to say that a lack of goals is a sensible move in your career and your life. In fact, going to that extreme is “stupid” (for anyone). If you don’t know where you are going, what are you working for? I would suggest that a general plan (not years from now and then 10 years from now), that isn’t written in stone and is flexible as necessary is a sensible compromise. I know which courses I am taking that lie ahead of me in order to carve out a career path but this doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind somewhere along the way and pursue something else. I don’t think that’s uninspired or “stupid.” I have, however, reached a point where I don’t let my life bounce me around like a raging current, slamming me up against boulders, and leaving me wondering what will happen next, the way I once did. I have a career where I have established a firmer foothold than that, and that’s a good move. I think it’s flexible planning, patience, and a great way to be happy.
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