November 4, 2010

"I think laziness has changed."

"[T]he new laziness has nothing to do with physical labor and everything to do with fear. If you're not going to make those sales calls or invent that innovation or push that insight, you're not avoiding it because you need physical rest. You're hiding out because you're afraid of expending emotional labor."

40 comments:

rhhardin said...

Leave nobody unscolded.

Bob said...

I don't agree. It's more likely that you've given up, and you've given up because you've concluded that no matter what you do, The State will either take it away or destroy it.

Maguro said...

What he's describing isn't really laziness. It's more like being a pussy.

A said...

I am not proud to admit it, but this describes me very well.

I've figured out how to make more than I could ever spend at a worthless job where I work extremely hard (18-hour days of physical labor) every so often and then mess around until the next project rolls along.

tim maguire said...

Maguro is right, and I say that as someone who struggles with fear of confrontation (which I think is the type of fear he's talking about with his "emotional labor" hokum).

It's only laziness if you redefine laziness to mean pussy.

Synova said...

"This is great news, because it's much easier to become brave about extending yourself than it is to become strong enough to haul an eighty pound canoe."

I think this is wrong. The rest of it I believe, that laziness is often avoidance. But I think that it's much harder to learn to be brave, or to find the emotional capital to be able to afford to be brave than it is to become strong enough to haul an 80 pound canoe. It's not that hard to dig a ditch, or shingle a roof, but it is hard. What it doesn't do is *cost* anything.

Seven Machos said...

My God, that is so true.

edutcher said...

Maguro's right, although I'd say some of it is fear of rejection or ridicule and it can come from the shell shock of hearing "No" too many times.

The old lazy, however, is still there. A lot of that is good old apathy.

Freeman Hunt said...

Most surprisingly insightful thing I've read in a while.

Sixty Grit said...
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Alex said...

The author is confusing laziness with fear. 2 different bananas.

Synova said...

I think that Bob has a good point, too.

Making sales calls, inventing something and trying to get it out there, for me - writing that novel... it's all up front investment in very hard work that simply may not pay off at all and *then* you still don't have the confidence that you'll get to keep what you earned.

Taking risks is easier if a person feels secure. Putting in a whole lot of emotional labor and creative energy into something that may not work is a smaller risk when "not working" is all there is to it.

People aren't lazy. They work long hours and they work hard. What they may not do is put themselves "out there."

Maybe it's being a pussy, but it's more than just needing to push past a comfort zone because you find it hard to cold call people or talk to investors or don't want to get rejections. People feel insecure. Hate your job? You stick it out unless you are confident you can find something else if your independent project falls through. Kids need to be fed and cars need to be fixed and heating fuel needs to be purchased.

It's easy, "move that pile of rock", is easy. Carry a canoe is easy. Shingle the roof is easy... even if you're a small middle aged woman like me, it's just slower.

Synova said...

Sixty... My joints all hurt, too. My shoulder is strained atm because of my job. Long term physical things are hard on the body, but that's not what this guy is talking about. I grew up on a farm and I've done the hard jobs too, baling and picking rock and cleaning manure and milking. In a lot of ways those jobs are hard and exhausting and anyone would probably rather do something else if they could, but that's not what this guy is talking about.

If someone hasn't done those sorts of "ditch digging" jobs, I'm thinking that this guy Althouse linked to is the one who hasn't.

Synova said...

I mean, maybe this will make sense...

I could write and it's not hard or physical at all, but it's labor without being sure it will pay off.

My *job* pays crap and is physical and a lot of the people who started quit because they didn't like working that hard... but it's far easier than taking risks.

gbarto said...

If you're doing a sales call properly, you've done at least 75% of the work before the first time you pick up the phone to call the prospective client.

Imagine you worked at a lawn care service where first you had to mow the person's lawn and then if the person agreed that 1) the lawn needed mowing before, 2) you'd done a good job and 3) they had the money to spare, they might on average be willing to pay you between 75% and 80% of your asking price for work you've already done. Oh, and only one in ten will both be home and willing to pay you anything. That's cold calling. And if people doing physical labor got paid the same way as sales people on commission, they'd also be pretty wary of where they invested their upfront effort.

Seven Machos said...

I disagree with the people who disagree. We are a very comfortable people. This has been a fabulous deep recession, as far as these things go.

Until very recently, you got out there and you did shit because you didn't have much of a choice. Now, you do have a choice. You can take comfort in your fear.

William said...

I'm sort of a Renaissance sluggard. There is no area of purposeful human activity in which I have not dallied, dithered, and procastinated. I have worked at physically brutish jobs and some others that were more intellectually challenging. I found that with the office jobs I spent more time at the gymn and with the laboring jobs, I spent more time reading on my days off. Perhaps we seek some kind of homeostatic balance with our emotions, intellect, and tendons. At any rate, now that my work on the hadron collider is complete, I no longer seek intellectual challenges and I long ago gave up hard physical work. I lie flat and do nothing and watch television. Sometimes I watch shows that I'm bored with because I'm too damn lazy to look for the remote control.

sunsong said...

“Be creative. Use unconventional thinking. And have the guts to carry it out.” ~.Lee Iaccoca


“Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice." ~ Steve Jobs

jamboree said...

Huh, Interesting.

I found it easier to resurface the deck with a hand sander than do some of the other "emotional" things on my list.

I thought of it as "procrastination" or "avoidance" more than emotionally lazy, but I think it's great that some commenters have redefined that as "being a pussy" - which I always thought of as being a wuss when it came to whining/physical confrontation, but not so much this kind of thing.

But that's helpful. It is kind of pussy - both a hard day of emotionally invested discouragement or rejection and the second day of my period can lead to going to bed early with some form of chocolate treat, so they must have something in common. ;-)

I'll just think of it that way from now on. I'm being a wuss. Maybe that's the key.

BJM said...

The old lazy is the new fear? Sounds like a set-up for yet another victim group with well paid attending experts and an entitlement.

traditionalguy said...

Fear acts as a slow poison, which we call worry. Fear is the inverse of faith in a good set of surroundings, which especially includes loyal relationships among the potentially very dangerous human creatures that live among us. Faith has traditionally been achieved among the sons of men by a common worship (a/k/a culture). Today's lack of faith in any worship culture results in "men's hearts failing them". It also expresses itself in an existential philosophy and men stuck in narcissistic personalities working to surround themselves with money power and people that they control. God help us. Atheism has consequences.

Michael said...

TraditionalGuy: That was very well put. Atheism/materialism is at the root of our undoing.

Sixty Grit said...
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Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roadkill said...

What we're really talking about here is Fear of Failure. Failing takes and emotional toll; not trying at all eliminates the risk of failing and feeling bad about it.

Bigger question concerns what causes the debilitating fear of failure.

Earth Girl said...

I'm not sure if Seth understands Occam's razor. The simplest explanation is that more people are asked to make a sales call than carry a canoe today. And then he equates fear to laziness! I pulled him off my reader at least a year ago because of this type of post.

After 30 years in high pressure sales, I am now a gardener. I am not lazy. If I avoided a sales call, it was because I had better prospects to pursue. If I avoid planting a tree, it is because my right knee hurts. In both jobs, I have worked with people who are just plain lazy.

Also, I have portaged a canoe in a situation where real fear of survival was involved. Lazy=dead in the "benign" physical example of Mr. Godin.

Pogo said...

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained" still pretty much covers it.

Each generation realizes the secret of fire and thinks it new, smiling at their discovery.

Shanna said...

The rest of it I believe, that laziness is often avoidance.

I can definitely see this. I sometimes have a tendency to avoid certain things in this way. It’s something you have to push through. When I was younger, this was more of an issue, though.

It's why a lot of people are really not good at sales.

lemondog said...

How do we know that laziness hasn't always been fear-tinged?

Pogo said...

Lazy teenagers are not filled with fear.

They are pure laziness, found in its natural state, abundant and nearly lifeless.

The Crack Emcee said...

The only thing that's changed, for me, is my perception of people:

I used to want to make music for others - especially my ex - to make them smile, laugh, dance, feel a sense of transcendence in the various artistic movements.

Now - fuck 'em. They showed me their ass, after discovering (I'm picking just one) I like Bush, and why I should want to please them now escapes me. Everything I cared about is gone.

I still get up at 4:30AM to play, but I read instead. I still stay up late to play, but I read instead. I've got a bunch of songs in here that scream "hit!" but there's no longer any real online avenues for unsigned artists - how do they compete against majors now? - and the public seems content, thinking Lady GaGa's costumes are "music" and she represents the NewAge or something, so what do I care?

You've created a world, and a people, I care little for.

Anyway, I see it as y'all's loss:

I like me already.

Larry J said...

Synova, I have shingled many roofs, dug many ditches, and the physical cost is enormous. Try it, get back to me in a few decades, see how your knees and the rest of your joints are holding up.

Those people who have never done hard physical labor can’t understand the toll it takes on a body. A friend's son is an electrician. He's in need of a hip replacement at age 38. I was a paratrooper a long, long time ago and my knees have never recovered from the abuse. This makes the notion of increasing the retirement age difficult because people who've spent their lives doing physical labor may not be able to work more years before retiring. Not everyone gets to work in an office.

There's also this misconception of the mental aspects of physical labor. I've heard statements like "I work with my mind, not my hands" as if the hands magically know what to do to accomplish a task independent of the mind.

As an engineer, I like to say that "laziness is the foundation of efficiency." By that, I mean that when you give a job to a lazy guy, he'll find the easiest, fastest, and simplest way to get the job done the first time because anything else is more work*. Many great inventions were inspired by the idea of making a job easier.

*The corollary is "an action transferred is an action completed."

traditionalguy said...

Avoidance is an energy waster going to great lengths to dance around a hurtful subject by keeping it SECRET. The freedom from that activity and the healing from that hurt starts when the secret is revealed, thus losing most of its power over us. Do you remember Crocodile Dundee's hometown's method of psychiatry: tell the bartender who tells everyone else in town, and once the secret is out it is rendered powerless.

DADvocate said...

I'll go with the pussy/fear/lack of confidence aspect when it comes to sales, especially cold calling and high priced items and services. In store sales never bothered me but cold calling was stressful. I don't seem to be much good at sales but pretty durn good at programming marketing research surveys.

I actually prefer physical labor but good paying, steady physical labor jobs are few. The hardest physical labor I've ever done was unloading 130 lb bags of coffee beans off of boxcars. Sometimes I think I'd rather do that than deal with the stress of programming in a very fast paced, high demand environment.

When I was a kid, my dad bought an 83 lb aluminum canoe. I could carry it a quarter mile down to the river by the time I was 11 or 12. That's easy.

DADvocate said...

Lazy teenagers are not filled with fear.

Are teenagers, as a group, any lazier than the rest of us. My two youngest are teens, 17 yr. old boy and 14 yr old girl. They work their butts off, honor students in school, sports everyday. Between school, homework, sports and a social life, they keep up a pretty hectic pace. Most of their friends do the same.

Yeah, there are lazy teenagers, but I see plenty of lazy adults every day, some quite successful because they're talented at getting others to do the work. Go to Walmart and see how many adults have bodies that scream "Lazy". It's frightening.

Michael said...

Teenagers are still growing, their bodies going through wrenching changes. They need sleep. Like bears.

Meade said...

Imagine you worked at a lawn care service where first you had to mow the person's lawn and then if the person agreed that 1) the lawn needed mowing before, 2) you'd done a good job and 3) they had the money to spare, they might on average be willing to pay you between 75% and 80% of your asking price for work you've already done.

Under budget, ahead of deadline. An excellent startup strategy if you have the skills. Don't be wary - just be careful and selective. Advice: Get the homeowner's permission to mow his lawn on spec before you fire up that mower.

Don't forget to trim the edges, sweep the walk, and thank the homeowner for giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your service. Mention that you also have excellent edging, weeding, and mulching skills.

Phone will ring. Business will grow.

Phase 3: Profit.

BJM said...

@Meade

A cousin in down state Illinois did exactly that, beginning in middle school. By the time he graduated from college he was financially independent.

He added a phase in high school: Snow removal.

Phase 4: Larger Profit, sooner.

Meade said...

@BJM Ha! Smart cousin.

rinkjustice said...

I agree with edutcher, it definitely has a lot to do with fear of rejection.

I actually designed a game for myself in 2009 (which I made public since it worked so well). It's called Rejection Therapy and it really helped me get out of my comfort zone and create opportunities.

If anyone wants to try it, it's here: http://rejectiontherapy.com