The Fake Sense of Importance

“My daughter is always busy. She is the manager of a whole division in her organization,” said the proud woman when she was asked what her daughter did for living.  Does this sound familiar to you? I’m sure it does.  After all, we live in a society where people like to seem busy , because to them being busy is the equivalent of being important, significant, and successful.

It is not uncommon  to have the friend you never see, because he/she is working extra hours. We also all probably met someone who had to talk about their relative the engineer or the doctor who is absent from all family gatherings. The conversation would even go something like this” My relative, Ahmad, who is a mechanical engineer works so hard. We hardly see him in the family.”  Whether we like it or not, we all seem to believe that the  busier we are, the more important we seem to all the people around us. In fact, the person working extra hours is always seen as more successful, when in reality he/she is responding to s myth created by a modern economy.

Private sector companies have built their work models based on the ideas of understaffing and overworking their team. In almost all job interviews we sit for, we are bound to be asked if we are willing to work extra hours and on weekends. The interviewers will probably say, “Our work is demanding, and so you might be called in to work on a weekend at times.” Of course, these same interviewers don’t even factor “overtime” in this stipulation, yet many of us will gladly work the extra hours for no pay  in the name of significance, achievement, career, belonging, purpose, calling, and any other idea modern-day corporates try to sell us as being synonymous with success.

We all had, at some point of our working life, proudly said something along the lines of ” I worked yesterday till 2 am on a report as my boss wanted it a 9 am. He said it was urgent.”

However, if we step out of our bubble of fake importance for a few minutes, we would surely realize that no report in the world is that urgent. No one will die if a report is submitted at 10 am instead of 9 am, and not a single soul will be crushed by the delay. When the boss tells us that, then he/she is just feeding on our need to feel important. This fake need is exactly why corporations today  hire one person to do the job of seven.

The premise that success is the result of overworking is exactly why this employee, who is doing the job of seven, will feel very significant. He/she will falsely believe that the organization is dependent on his/her extra hours of work.

To add to this lie, the boss will even give the employee moral support by saying empty words like “We need you.” “You are an asset.” or “I can’t do this job without you.” In doing that, the boss saves money, and the employee gets to feel special. So, it is a win/win.

This is exactly why an employee will receive an email a midnight that reads “Top Urgent.” when in reality nothing is top-urgent at midnight. No client will die if you don’t change the text he requested immediately. No one will have their heart broken if you did not respond to their work-related phone call after working hours, and no one will be any less important if they work during working hours only. It is really ok to have other interests, and it is more than ok that the working day doesn’t last beyond working hours.

Unless we are personally and very actively saving people from wars, natural disasters, a burning building, or critical surgery, then nothing is a threat to our well-being. for OUR WORK IS  NOT THAT CRITICAL. This doesn’t mean we are less successful. In fact, if we work during the hours we are supposed to, we should be fine. I say, love the job, but it isn’t your life. Your self-worth doesn’t depend on the late nights you spend working.  Anyone saying otherwise is feeding you a corporate myth.

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