Loving Work

I admit it. I’m a Paul Graham fanboy. Why? Well, first off, we share a number (though not all) of off-the-wall views. And having a self-made multi-millionaire share them tends to raise the value of said views. Also, he’s damn eloquent.

“Another related line you often hear is that not everyone can do work they love– that someone has to do the unpleasant jobs. Really? How do you make them? In the US the only mechanism for forcing people to do unpleasant jobs is the draft, and that hasn’t been invoked for over 30 years. All we can do is encourage people to do unpleasant work, with money and prestige.

If there’s something people still won’t do, it seems as if society just has to make do without. That’s what happened with domestic servants. For millennia that was the canonical example of a job ‘someone had to do.’ And yet in the mid twentieth century servants practically disappeared in rich countries, and the rich have just had to do without.

So while there may be some things someone has to do, there’s a good chance anyone saying that about any particular job is mistaken. Most unpleasant jobs would either get automated or go undone if no one were willing to do them.”

Two words. Damn straight. If it’s tedious, automate it. The machine will probably do it better than a person anyways. Haven’t you ever wondered why you have to talk to that damn box at the drive-through? Why not just push a damn button with the picture of what you want on it? Real estate agents? Those are quickly going the way of the dodo (thanks to the Internet). Newspaper classified ads are drying up quicker than isopropyl alcohol thanks to Craigslist. Hell, why risk giving someone your phone number when you can simply point them to your MySpace account?

Paul’s essay is far more expansive than this short excerpt. If you hate your job, you should read it ASAP.

How to Do What You Love


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