by Ian Doescher
People talk a lot about the business world and how hard it is—cutthroat deals, harsh executives, the crushing 40 (or 50 or 60) hour workweek, the coworker you can’t stand, the boss who’s a little too much like the boss in The Office. These are the stereotypes we, as a culture, have assigned to the business world, but they are just that: stereotypes. But you know what’s way worse than the dog-eat-dog world of business? How about this…
Have you ever watched boys playing on a playground? I have two sons, and recently had a chance to watch them play after school with their schoolmates. And WOW, I wouldn’t trade my business world—stressful though it sometimes is—for being 11 years old again. Not in a million years. My older son was playing a version of 500—the game where one person throws a ball (in this case a football) and everyone else tries to catch it—although it didn’t look much like they were keeping score. He was also playing with boys a year or two older than him, so naturally I was a big bundle of nerves. (Way more nervous for him, I should add, than he was.) If any of the boys missed the ball when it came to them, the others had a ritual of pointing at the dribbler and laughing like drones: “Ha. Ha. Ha.” It was like something out of a Stephen King novel—psychological torture at its worst. They all kept smiling, and seemed like they were having fun. But wow, I wouldn’t go back into that atmosphere for all the tea in China. Can you imagine if you made a mistake at work, and all of your coworkers started pointing at you and saying, “Ha. Ha. Ha.”? Even if it were in jest, it would be miserable. Give me the business world over middle school ANY day of the week.
My younger son chose to do his homework while he sat there on the playground. (Yes! Parenting level achieved.) He was doing his math homework a week before it was due (I can’t make this stuff up), and was faced with this problem: “Sam’s family went to the Pizza Parlor for dinner. They started with 4 pizzas. Sam’s parents at 1/2 of a pizza. Sam and his brothers ate 2-1/3 pizzas, while his sisters ate only 3/4 of a pizza. How much pizza was left?” This is hard stuff, and they have even been taught how to reduce fractions or anything like that. So I had him draw out pizzas with 12 slides each and figure it out (see the drawing to the right). Fourth grade math is HARD WORK. I’ll take copywriting and website project management any day.
So just remember, when things seem hard at work or when you’re thinking about the terrors of the corporate world: it could be worse. You could be a kid again, with all the emotional turmoil and homework and popularity contests and work of just making it to your 12th birthday alive.
Good luck out there!