Jeff is in his early 40s. His wife fell in love with someone else so he’s a single father.
Jeff helps large companies avoid environmental problems. Handsome and fit, in beard, plaid shirt, blue jeans.
“Good question,” he smiles, when we ask what he’d do if he didn’t have to worry about money. “I think I’d hike all the time.”
Ask someone what they’d do if money were no object. Most will answer with “not work”. Humans believe we need money to live. To get money, we have to work. Make money irrelevant and our minds free up, then swing like pendulums. Instead of working 10-12 hours a day “earning a living” we’d spend all our time not working.
But if you press people, something shifts.
“Well,” Jeff begins after thinking a bit. “What I’m really good at is going out into the environment, taking measurements and samples, and then looking at that data to come up with ways to fix or prevent environmental damage.”
Jeff face lightens as he talks about combining being out doors with doing environmental work. Obviously, that’s what he loves to do. Hiking, like most past times would get boring for him. Like most humans, Jeff wants to create value.
But then Jeff’s face goes dark. He explains how his early marriage, it’s collapse and the pressure of financial debt and family responsibilities puts limits on his career options. By the time he’s done explaining why he can’t do what he wants to do, the light in his eyes is gone.
“Isn’t everyone doing the same thing? Everyone has a part of their jobs they don’t like, don’t they? Or at least an area they need to improve on.”
“I need to get better at technical writing. If I can improve I that skill, I can make more. I have to be good at writing because I have to communicate my findings to others.”
Jeff looks at his hands a moment.
“But I’m not good at it,” he admits. “So the question, and I guess everyone has this question: Do I have the initiative, the motivation, to do what I need to do to improve this part of my skills so I can advance?”
Why doesn’t Jeff just do the work he enjoys?
“Because those technicians only get $7 an hour,” he says. “I need to make more than that.”
Like all of us, there’s much more to Jeff than environmental work.
“I have a lot of inventions I’d like to test out, some business models I’d love to try. I really want to explore the bar scene. Not because I like bars, but because I love beer. I’d love to try something in that industry.”
Jeff says he could do these things if he had more time away from work.
“A lot of the time I spend at work isn’t productive. I could be much more productive in much less time if my work were organized differently. But as it is, I spend more time at work than I think is necessary.”
What would our country be like if everyone could live their dreams just do what they love? Pursue real dreams, exercise our real talents? How much more productive would America be if all of us were maximizing our potential?
Our current system makes that difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why there’s Copiosis.