By Fareeha Qayoom
As usual I was browsing Readings looking for an interesting book to read (Jan 2011) when I came across Richard Reeves’ Happy Mondays in the business/management section. What attracted me was the title of the book obviously – the next thing that struck me was the design and format of the entire book (Momentum Books doesn’t have a typical management packaging!) and the next big thing was the price – it was only for PKR 50. Hmmm.
Not that I decided to buy it immediately – I was still planning to go through it before I would buy over a cup of tea (or coffee – depends on the mood) at the café…I like to take my time and I usually at least read the first chapter to see if it’s worth it.
I read more than one chapter sitting at the Readings café – it was definitely “buy,” (at the moment I have started about twenty books the same way that I have yet to finish – a very high stress situation I tell you!). This one was quite easy to finish. It’s short. It’s to-the-point. It’s easy to read. It’s also unpretentious – meaning it doesn’t pretend to be a ‘management-guru’ type of book giving you the key of the (management) universe! 🙂 It’s just a series of observations collated together taken from the current workplace (Year 2000 mostly) as its 2001 edition.
As the book Synopsis puts it at Reeves’ website – “Work has had centuries of bad press, being blamed for everything from unhappiness to lack of sex. It’s time to give work a break. This is a book for people who love what they do – or wish they could – and shows how to get the best return for your love as well as your labor. For centuries people viewed ‘work’ as something to be endured. They worked in order to live. The 9 to 5 grind, done purely for the money. Some people still endure work today – if they don’t enjoy their job. But a new era is dawning. We are in the midst of a revolution in the role of work in our lives. Work is now important – more than ever before. Work is who you are. And a growing number of people actually love to work.”
Hmmm. I could relate to that. I have been looking for work like that my entire working life (probably the reason why I can’t stick it out more than three years at single workplace!). Work that you can enjoy for hours; a virtual labor of love (my hobbies fall in that category but work at the actual workplace – please!) Even if you enjoy the actual work, your co-workers might not which is unfortunate because at most workplaces you have to work with people – there is no such thing as a ‘solo’ project.
Most people in Pakistan actually still endure the workplace and go home for the simple pleasure of being alive! 🙂 We still have a long way to go – people in Pakistan work for the money – period. They get educated for the money too. Long steady paycheck at the end of the day is more important than your ability or your passion for doing something you are actually good at. I remember, I wanted to change “Economics” in my Bachelor’s program back in the so-called good ol’ (student/youth) days but I just didn’t quite dare even though I knew it was doing nothing for me intellectually – yes, peer pressure. I wasn’t strong enough in those days to rise above it. So yeah…this book talks sense but has this attitude arrived in Pakistan? – No, not yet, not by a long shot.
Most employers also consider work ‘should be endured’ in Pakistan – “you are not there to enjoy yourself or really contribute – you are there to do what you are told. No backchat, thank you very much.” Most workplaces in Pakistan are dictatorships, not a democracy or a collaboration to innovate or create. Furthermore, they don’t put you first – they put you last. So, if you need a particular ‘tool’ to do your job – too bad, they will get you that when you they can spare the cash, until than; make do – come up with creative ways in the meantime. Put up, shut up. Endure.
I am glad somewhere in the world; ‘staff’ is now allowed to work for pleasure too, not just for money and the employers are putting them in their first five priorities. I wish we could have that in Pakistan too though! ■