A couple of weeks ago, I met a woman who worked as a historian for the Smithsonian museum while riding a train home from work. While I normally mind my own business on the train, sometimes I meet people as equally extraverted as I am that we get into really great spirited conversations. She was one of those people, and this was one of those conversations.
She commented on it “really being one of those days,” and I agreed with her. She told me a story about how hard it is for employees of the Smithsonian because the need for perfection is so high. This need for perfection resulted in employees having to work unreasonable hours in order to get the work done just right. Her message was one that I knew was more than just a casual chat. She was talking about something much more profound – she labeled it “corporate slavery.”
I was familiar with this concept, but never really contemplated it or realized its impact on my own life. Suddenly, things came into clear view. I remember being pregnant with my third child and giving birth prematurely while I was studying business in college plus putting in 60+ hour work weeks. I was so extremely stressed out, but I couldn’t possibly come home and relax after a long day at the office because the amount of work needing to be done surpassed what I could do. Nights turned into weekends and weekends turned into non-stop work. I was a slave to my corporation. The guilt and shame of having loads of outstanding work needing to be completed fell on the shoulders of my Catholic upbringing and sense of obligation – feel guilty for problems I didn’t cause and requiring me to sacrifice myself for the greater good. …yeah, some CEO’s fat paycheck and bonus…
Having a near death experience during an emergency delivery should have woken me up to the reality of what was happening, but it didn’t. I was too stubborn to see it. I risked my own life and the life of my child for the sake of a corporation’s greed. Instead of hiring adequate staff to handle the surge of work, management didn’t staff the department properly, and the employees were going full tilt for over a year without a real break.
Now that I’ve become aware that I was a victim of, and awake to the reality of corporate slavery, I’ll never allow myself to get sucked in again. When I go to work, I put in my all and give everything I have. Even when I get home, I’ll check my work emails to make sure nothing is blowing up. However, my leisure time belongs to me. I don’t live my life for my company, I live my life for myself, and so should you.
We have one life to live, and one chance to make an impact. Don’t give it to some CEO to get an extra bonus. It’s YOUR life. Live YOUR life. Love YOUR life.
If you’re going to slave for a company, make it your own company; and let the work be so enjoyable that you feel nothing but bliss while you’re putting in long hours.
Meditate on this.