Modern Day Serfdom

Modern Day Serfdom

Last Friday was a big day on Wall Street.  Bank of America Merrill Lynch agreed to allow its junior employees – people who routinely work grueling days and nights – four days off a month.  That’s right, now the bank’s workers can take four days off … as long as it’s on weekend.

Other Wall Street companies are doing the same.  Big deal.  In the eleventh century, this kind of treatment was called serfdom.  And all the self-congratulatory back-patting in the world won’t change it into benevolence.

But here’s the real kicker.  Those junior associates volunteer for this abuse.  They take jobs with financial service companies knowing full well they’ll be treated as serfs.  Why?  To smoke the crack of a fast rise to big salaries.

Such self-denigration is the antithesis of Career Fitness.  Our philosophy is based on the foundation of self-respect.  We take care of our careers by taking care of ourselves first.  And no amount of money can alter that commitment.

As I noted here before, we humans can access not one, but two beneficial states in our life.  One is an emotional state and most often derived from our relationships with those we care about.  It’s best described as “joy.”

The second is a cognitive state that is achieved by facing and overcoming a meaningful challenge.  It’s best described as “happiness,” and research indicates that it is most likely to happen at work.

A meaningful challenge, however, is not long hours and six day workweeks.  It is not work that is endured simply to score a big salary.  No, a meaningful challenge is one that brings out the best in us as we perform tasks that we believe are important and worthwhile.  Those challenges will send you home exhausted at the end of the day.  Modern day serfdom sends you off to work that way.

Thanks for Reading,
Peter