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The Working Mind

Hyunjoo Je is a young teacher who taught me a perspective on work. In 2019, I read her book ‘The Working Mind’ and went to hear her lecture. Today, I went through my old notes and reread what I wrote down, and it still stuck with me, so I felt compelled to write it down.

When two of the following are involved: money, fame (recognition), and fun, we do the work.

The best thing is when all three are involved but that seems to be very rare. It depends on your own situation, but at the point of retirement in my 50s, I would prioritize ‘fun’ over money or fame (recognition) and be grateful if money or fame is involved.

My motto is ‘If you are curious, do it’. Even if I do my job, I reserve at least 20% of my energy for my work.

You are not the owner of the company, you are a worker who is paid for your time and labor. Even the position of president, unless he is a member of the owner’s family, is just a worker who is compensated a bit more. Then you need to have energy for yourself outside of work. So that you can pursue the things want to do and are curious about.

The paradigm of work is changing. It used to be that your identity was what you did, but now where your identity is what you do.

If your answer to “Who are you?” is still “I’m a lawyer” or “I work at Bank.” that’s outdated. There are a lot of lawyers in the world, and we need a certain kind of lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in traffic accidents, is a lawyer with a story. If your company is your identity, what will you do when you leave that? So I think people who know themselves well can express it in their work. “What do I like and what do I spend hours and hours on?” There is a possibility that your work will come from there.

All the important decisions are multiple choice question. If you try to find the answer in a subjective way, you won’t find it.

The choices you make now are decisions about future possibilities. In 1983, everyone laughed at Samsung Electronics when it said would make 64K DRAM semiconductors, which were only produced in the United States and Japan. If you think about this in a subjective way, there is no answer, so it can only be a multiple choice. It’s either do or not. When making a decision like this, it’s better to think in an objective manner.

It’s multiple choice, but it defines time. For example, let’s make the current decision into an answer sheet that is only valid for six months.

The more important the decision, the more you want to avoid it. But the worst thing is to miss the timing. Here’s a tip: make the decision, but give your answer sheet an expiration date. If it’s a six-month expiration date, that means you’re going to stick with your decision for six months and then decide if you want to continue or not.

There is no absolute better choice. So don’t overthink the choice itself. Make the choice now and go there for now. With any choice, there’s a timeframe to stick with it.

For me, decisions have a shelf life of 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, and 3 years. Most of us seem to have some decisions at each stage, which is why the author makes this statement.

Choosing simply, But Making today a good one.

Work is a large part of my life, but it is only a means to an end. Why do I work? To make a living? Then it’s simple. If you make enough to live on, you can get out of work. But if you need to be better than everyone else and have a better life, then you’re in a maze with no end in sight. It’s good to work, even if it’s just to make ends meet. Just make sure you’re working for yourself, not for others. Capitalism is a system in which the surplus of laborers’ production inevitably flows to capitalists. This is called the “shower effect” in economic terms. The money that the government released to the people during the COVID crisis would have been in the pockets of capitalists by now.

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