10 White Van Man’s Cousin’s Castle
Do you remember T.W. Fisher from a couple of weeks ago? (03 White Van Man and His Teachings below.) Wiring wizard and gallant knight, pursuivant of his trade twixt Bow and Leytonstone, such is the glory of his transit on a Monday…
Mr Fisher has many cousins. They live in Swindon, between the city and the business park, where they has done not bad, mate, and run small guest houses with large signs that promise “En-suite Rooms” and also one has “Colour TV”. They give names to these castles of pebble-dash so that, as your taxi grinds past, you find yourself on familiar terms with the owners. For example, in the B&B called Patden, Patricia and Dennis decant the Asda Cornflakes into the Tupperware and grumble about that sales rep from Kent who nicked the ashtray. Behind the crumbling double-glazing of Frantone, Francis and Tony tidy away the new roll-out divan. Strangely, no one ever stays two nights at Muriel and Derek’s.
I have slept in plenty of crap hotels. None worse than my attempt to avoid staying in Bootle (this was just post-Bulger and still pre-Google) by booking by phone a room in the centre of Liverpool. On arrival it became clear that the “Hardman St Hotel” really did deserve its quote marks – that and a two-mile exclusion zone. Several different patterned wallpapers confirmed you had arrived in your room, while a loose-hanging fluorescent tube illuminated all the options for suicide. But it was too late to leave, and besides I’d already padlocked my car to a lamp-post.
Ok, so far you’ve insulted the populations of Swindon, Bootle and Liverpool combined. Who do you think you are? Boris Johnson?
I apologise unreservedly. While low-level hotel comfort is still widely available (just look for any hotel with the word Comfort in the name or, if you’re really hardcore, Brittania), our standard of living in the UK is of course exponentially higher than when “Hot + Cold in all Rooms” was a thrill.
And how this relates to business is…?
Question: does a typical working day add something good to your life? Or, as above, do you wish you’d stayed at home? We spend more hours working than doing any other single thing. It matters enormously that we enjoy it.
Which is why I just don’t get this work/life balance notion that people seem to bang on about. It implies that your life is something you park at the office door for the day and that only begins properly at 5.30pm. I’m not advocating workaholism. I am advocating putting yourself in the driving seat of making each working day as fulfilling as you can.
How? Well, you could go and work for Ricardo Semler, the celebrated champion of the self-determined workforce, if you don’t mind moving to Brazil. (Read how his employees set their own pay scales at www.strategy-business.com/press/16635507/05408.) Alternatively, the first step might be to see work not as a place of restriction but as a source of stimulation and true reward. Job satisfaction, not pay, is what gets people out of bed. And for most of us, that’s pretty much within own own control.
Aren’t we lucky? We’re not stranded in the rain, it’s not past midnight, we don’t have to stay in that hotel.
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NEXT FRIDAY 3 JULY
DOLLY PARTON: A MODEL OF PERFECTION