You may have seen the past few stories about Wolf and Songbird, and the assumption we often leap to when making decisions: that we can't satisfy BOTH the ego's cravings for security -- AND the loftier hungers that come from the soul.
One place where you might see this tension showing up frequently is around work.
Consider one of the most popular narratives we've inherited about work -- that it consists of 40 hours a week.
According to this doctrine, "work" means eight uninterrupted hours of focused and productive effort each day -- a core assumption of our job-economy.
And yet -- if we were feeling so bold as to tell the truth -- we might admit that on a typical day, a lot of that time is spent avoiding the actual work.
We each have our distractions of choice; from social media, to that colleague we like, to that third coffee break of the day. And if we felt safe enough to acknowledge this fact without fear of losing jobs...
... We would admit that it's not realistic, or sustainable, to do one's best work for 40+ hours a week -- just because you're supposed to.
Don't get me wrong: When you're feeling intrinsically motivated and invested in your work, time can be a non-issue -- in a state of flow, you can perform for days on end.
But when time is the sole measuring stick of productivity, it becomes a stick with which to beat ourselves -- even past the point when we're too burnt out to do more than shuffle papers around, squint at a screen, and pretend to work.
Which seems like a colossal waste of time and energy -- not to mention a huge unkindness to ourselves, given how much the nature of work has changed.
Consider that the very concept of an 8-hour shift, like so many of our ideas about work, is left over from an industrial era -- a time when the factory had to operate around the clock to meet its production quota, and humans provided the rote labor to do that.
Back then, work didn't require critical thinking, creative problem-solving, strategic empathy, or synthesis of competing agendas.
It just required that you show up and pull the lever.
Now that machines are in charge of everything rote and repeatable, our work increasingly demands that we exercise unique human capacities for language, empathy, foresight, synthesis, creativity, and imagination...
... All of which require huge amounts of emotional and intellectual energy.
And all of which, like anything else of value, are not inexhaustible resources.
If our goal is to do our best work -- and we can agree that the systems we inherited no longer enable us do that -- what's to stop us from re-imagining them?
What's to stop us from asking:
How can we do our BEST work -- with a different relationship to time?
Imagine that tomorrow, your ratio of work-to-life activity suddenly flipped.
Now, you have 16 hours each week to work -- which leaves you 40 others free, to do with as you please.
To what would you devote such spacious amounts of your time and attention, on those five free days each week?
And how might your relationship to work change -- if it wasn't so tied to your time?