🤯Unknown Unknowns #111 - Sinecures and Success
The first time I heard of “sinecure,” I thought that was the dream. Do nothing, get paid. Sign me up!
But my last job was actually a sinecure. My boss was in Dallas and didn’t care about me. I went months between talking to him. I still haven’t figured out why I wasn’t laid off. My only guess was that he wanted more headcount below him.
The funny thing was, before he became my boss, I started a program that saved our company hundreds of thousands of dollars. And if we expanded the trial program, it would have saved the company millions. But I wasn’t rewarded for the program and my boss ignored any further suggestions I made.
I spent a couple of hours a week generating reports on this program - reports that I’m sure no one read. The rest of the time, I surfed the web and wondered when I would get laid off.
The idea of a sinecure is ideal when you look at your job as a competition. The higher your salary and the less you're doing, the more you're winning.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
Yes, I “won.” I was probably paid more per hour actually worked than 99% of people in America. But what did I accomplish? You might think that a sinecure would allow you to do whatever you want in your off time. But the mismatch between providing value and compensation made me feel like I wasn’t valuable - the only way I could make money was by fooling someone into paying me.
I was winning a game I didn’t want to play. I would have been better off losing a game I wanted to play. Because at least I’d be doing something I wanted to be doing.
This is why Dynamic Agency and Interest are so important. Play the games you want to play.
If you use a sinecure to do things you actually want to do, more power to you. But my sinecure made me doubt that I could create anything actually valuable.
Stepping out on a limb and creating something on your own is scary. But why is it more acceptable to make money producing useless widgets than to make an earnest attempt to follow your own interests?
There’s a cognitive dissonance between the acceptance of a soul-sucking and pointless job being a net positive and believing that something that you’re genuinely interested in isn’t valuable.
“just as how getting a positive streak of accomplishment going provides its own momentum to keep at it, so too does a negative streak of performative busyness. It pulls you back into the comfort of the mental couch, and hands you the bag of chips to soothe your nagging sense of uselessness. For every day you stay there, the harder it is to get up, so best to muster everything you got to escape the dulling inertia now.” - David Heinemeier Hansson
Intellect is a great danger to creativity. A great danger because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things instead of staying with your own basic truth. - Ray Bradbury
🔗You’ll have to click through to Twitter to see the whole video (only 2 min) https://twitter.com/bfcarlson/status/1684580105883197442
Quote of the Week:
“The man who is most likely to ruin the place he loves is exactly the man who loves it with a reason. The man who will improve the place is the man who loves it without a reason.” - GK Chesterton
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Leaving you in peace,