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Green Building Blog

A Theory of Work: What Number Are You?

Are you a rock star?
Image Credit: © Mccarthyst... |

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably encountered those wacky apps that ask, “What model car are you?” or “What flavor of jelly bean are you?” (Just as all green building questions have the same answer—”It depends”—so the answer to all of these quizzes is the same—”Who cares?!” And no, I’ve never actually taken one of those quizzes. Who has time??)

But—even though I can’t stand those Facebook gimmicks—here’s a quiz for you: Which type of worker are you?

Edminster’s Theory of Work

Once upon a time, I conceived of this “Theory of Work.” The basic premise is that there are only four types of work. Everyone— everyone—falls into one of these four classifications.

Type 1: Dream Job

These people love their work. The job is all they ever hoped for. It is fun, stimulating, creative, and rewarding. There’s little not to like about it. Few people have these jobs. They tend to be rock stars, sports stars; in fact stars of any kind. Also those few artists who don’t need a day job.

Type 2: Professional Job

Many people I know have this kind of job. They are respected in their communities. Their jobs have many rewards. . .but also a good measure of aggravation. These jobs come home with you at night, haunt you in your dreams, dog you at all hours. They are responsible jobs; other people count on you, and little of your time is ultimately your own.

Type 3: Compartmentalized Job

I also know a bunch of people with this type of job. My mailman, Lou. Steve, the grocery checker at Safeway who I went to high school with. My hairdresser. My massage therapist. The artist who does have a day job—as a teamster. Now here’s the interesting thing. Many folks in Type 2 jobs worked and/or studied hard to ensure that they didn’t get this type of job, but a lot of my Type 3 friends seem happier than my Type 2 friends. Odd? Not really. Their jobs don’t come home with them; their work lives and home lives are compartmentalized. This means that Type 3s have psychic energy left at the end of the day. They have hobbies! They have social lives! These are good things!

Type 4: Scut Job

By definition, this is the kind of work you do only if you are out of options: sewer cleaner, telemarketer, soldier. (Of course, you could be in one of those jobs and like it, but then it wouldn’t be a Type 4; it would be one of the other types. My examples reveal my own biases—these are things I most emphatically would not want to do!)

The Postulate

What, you may be wondering, does this have to do with green building? I admit, I am most assuredly stretching the boundaries of my charge to contribute to the “Design Matters” blog here, but bear with me.

I propose that merely by being involved in the field of green building, the vast majority of jobs are elevated from whatever other type they might be (OK, perhaps not Type 4), to Type 1 jobs. My bias is showing again. I do love my work. I am constantly challenged and constantly learning new things. My clients and colleagues are phenomenally smart and committed people who are also way fun to be with. And I feel that my contributions, however small, are helping to move the world in the right direction. I do occasionally encounter annoyances, frustrations, and nincompoops. But all in all, I can hardly imagine something I could enjoy more. How lucky is that?!

So … which one are you?

Are you involved in green building already, or just thinking about it? If you’re just thinking about it, I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity. C’mon in! The water’s warm!! Sure … just the big toe. The rest will follow.

If you’re already involved in green building, I want to know: What number are you??

One Comment

  1. Michael Chandler | | #1

    I probably go beyond loving my job to the point of being obsessed with it. On a good day I'm conducting an crazy orchestra of scientists and rednecks and good attitudes and bad with moments of inspiration and devious manipulation and nuanced brute force.

    And there are the other kind of days, such as this spring, when I lose $10,000 in the span of a phone call and expectations don't get met and I just need to work harder than I ever thought possible.

    Times like those I hear my father and all the mentors who have nudged me down this path saying "the best way to get rid of your problems is to solve them" and I look back on the seemingly insurmountable obstacles our company has overcome and how we've grown from that.

    When I sat in the lawyers office twenty years ago setting a tax ID for my first business he looked me in the eye and said "If you think your boss is a jerk now, just wait 'til you're working for yourself."

    When you find work that you really love it becomes ever more important to get away from it on a regular basis. Don't let it become a grind, hold it up in that zone #1 by playing music, loving your family, getting out on the river with a good camera and no cell phone.

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