Praise for Responsible People Who Work Crappy Jobs to Support Others

May 4th, 2010

I read an interesting article over at the Self Improvement blog.

The post says:

Prior to becoming a Life Coach, I worked for 14 years as a contractor in the mortgage business. I had no benefits, never knew how long my jobs would last and the industry was sometimes unstable. I accepted this because I loved the work I did. There were perks such as working in many interesting cities and having time off to spend with family. Most days I awoke up excited about going to work.

My husband, on the other hand, has worked as an automobile mechanic for 19 years with a union automobile dealership. He has hated every day of his job for 19 years. Yet he decided to stay because of the benefits, union retirement, and his child support payments. He probably hits the snooze button four or five time every morning because he hates the thought of having to get up and go to work.

Now, I don’t know anything about the people in this story.  But it seems I read this kind of story all the time with the EXACT same dichotomy:

1. One person in the couple did a job they loved that had no security at all.

2. The second person did a job they hated because they had responsibilities to take care of, including person #1 with the unstable income.

Usually, the point of the story is to tell you to be like person #1.  But I think this is unfair.  In fact, I think it stinks.

Person #2 is the hero here.  I wrote before about the lost virtue of sacrifice, but I’ll say it again: sacrificing your own desires for others is noble.  And the thing that most people don’t want to admit is that you NEED someone to support you if you want to follow your dreams. I know that defeats the purpose of 99% of the self-help poop out there.  But the truth is that there is a real reward for selflessness.

In the book, The Ripple Effect, author Steve Harper actually devotes an entire chapter to the ROI of selflessness. He says, “there is nothing more selfish than being selfless.”

I agree.

So, I’m sure you’ll read similar stories on other blogs about the unhappy person who (consequentially) supports the person who goes off chasing the dream.  But I hope next time, instead of reflexively looking at the dream-chaser as the hero, you’ll give a bit of praise for the person who made it possible.

That person is the real hero.

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