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Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Quarry

In The Fountainhead, Howard Roark, his career seemingly on the rocks, asks his friend Mike to help him get a job. He ends up working in a quarry for a time until a client calls him to come back and design and build a structure for him. Roark doesn't consider the quarry demeaning at all. He understands the meaning of the Quarry. It is honest work. He does not compromise his principles. He also knows in time he will again do what he loves which is to be an architect. Most people don't care to struggle with this. It is way too tough. It requires the very best in yourself.

This from a blog I stumbled on written by Pedro Timóteo in 2005.

« Saying No
People and their stated goals »
Hypocrisy, granite quarries and “the real world”
Pedro Timóteo
on October 17, 2005
in absolutes, choices, definitions, honesty, ideals and work
. Tags: absolutes, choices, definitions, honesty, ideals, work.

I’ve written here, in the past, about the general dishonesty and corruption at my workplace - and, unlike some, I don’t think I’m in an especially “bad” place. From experience, both mine (it’s my 7th job or so) and others’, this place isn’t really so bad, compared to other companies.

Yet, the level of hypocrisy I have to maintain… disgusts me.

And, no matter how much I try to avoid it, I always think of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”’s Howard Roark, and how he ended up working in a granite quarry, because he refused to compromise on his principles.

Of course, Rand’s books are exaggerated - they’re books of extremes, of “black and white”, without shades of gray. I have responsibilities, I have a house to maintain, cats to feed, and debts to pay. I have dreams, which, while not directly related to material possessions, include some material possessions in them. So I can’t - right? - leave my job because of a “normal” level of hypocrisy, of intrigue, of “rewarding the bad workers and punishing the good”. Besides, most places are as bad as this one. And working on my own is still a bit far away.


I sometimes wonder if I’m not really sacrificing myself - what really matters, such as my integrity, my sense of honesty, and my self-respect, for something that, while important, isn’t that important.

Because I certainly don’t like myself as I say “good morning” to the department head, when I have absolutely no reason to respect him, know he’s incompetent and a liar, and wish him the worst morning in the world.

As for me: I don't architect buildings. I work with people. That seems to be my sweet spot so work for me is a way for me to get paid using my skills.

I never have small rules about finding jobs. I have BIG rules.

1. I never stop networking. As long as I think I have to work I stayed connected with people who both are employed or are looking for work. They all need my help and I need the connectivity. It is a daily and weekly process. No job is so important that it keeps me from this task.

2. I try to think out of the box. I feast off guys like you who have trouble doing at least 5 connections a day. Meaning I can and have done 10-15 a day if things are tough (like now). This means email, phone, breakfast, lunch, coffee or dinner.

3. I don't stop networking until I get job offers that interest me. And even when I am working I keep networking because I understand, after being laid off 4 times, that I will be out there again.

4. My career is not boxed. I will do higher level or lower level jobs if need be. No job is "the job". In consulting I have done 3-4 HR Exec jobs succeeded by recruiter gigs. It doesn't bother me at all. I found that thinking that I had to be a manager or director or VP cut my ability to maneuver. The best job I ever had "inside" was at Sun as a low level manager after having been an HR Director at my previous 3 jobs.

5. I have at least a years take home cash in the bank. That way no single job owns me. So if I have to cut my living style to get that freedom (cash) I will not hesitate to do so.

6. I will take an interim job outside my industry if need be to get along for a time. If I have to work at Costco to bring in extra cash I will do so. I did this more years back. After being a VP of Property Management, I was a waiter in restaurants and a shift manager at Stanford in the cafeteria. I also worked in the post office.

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