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Home > Blog > Today's Thought: Work as Fun
Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, January 25, 2005 4:58 PM
Today's Thought: Work as Fun
Anita Sharpe on Passionate Work

'I believe work today could be much more liberating and fun.

'But for many it isn't.

'Well, we might ask ourselves whether it was ever meant to be liberating and fun. If you consider what it has been like for everyone but the super rich, it looks like a litany of hard labour.

'I split the development of work into four phases:

Agrarian: pre-700

Industrial: 1700-1939

Communication: 1940-2000

Creative: now (and possibly forever)

Whilst hard labour and rigid regimes might typify the first three ages, the fourth, Creative, benefits from free-thinking, flexibility, imagination and enjoyment.' -- Andy Law (from Creative Company)



6 comments

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Diego from metacool - 1/30/2005 1:06:39 AM
Yes, but 'fun' does not necessarily equate to 'enjoyment'. You can have an enjoyable job -- even an incredibly enjoyable job -- which involves very little real fun.

Enjoying your job is about structuring it so that you can reach a state of 'flow' more often than not. If that means that your job needs to include a strong creative element, so be it. What's more important is that you match the level of skill required to do your job to your talents, which is an ever shifting equation.
Tom D - 1/27/2005 1:44:04 PM
I agree with your assessment but, of course, it only applies to that tiny sliver of the population lucky enough to be at least middle class in a developed nation. For the other 95% of the world it's still agrarian or industrial, and will be for generations to come.
Brent P. Newhall - 1/26/2005 9:23:03 AM
Brilliantly put, Gina!
Gina Bennett - 1/26/2005 1:00:04 AM
I think a basic definition of WORK is in order. According to Merriam-Webster, WORK is defined as 1) an activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something, 2) a sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result, or 3) the labor, task, or duty that is one's accustomed means of livelihood. Bottom line: work is an activity.

Creativity is what separates humanity from the rest of creation. From the beginning, people have had the ability to apply creativity to the work (i.e. activity) in which they are engaged, unlike a beast of burden.. From the invention of the wheel to the creation of the printing press to the birth of the computer, people have been trying to figure out how to make “work� easier and more enjoyable. Each of these bursts of creativity spawned other people to have ideas that built the industries of publication, automation, technology and more. But the key here is that people have the ability to be creative, which does not directly imply that they will use it. Each individual has to make a choice about the amount of creativity they will apply to the work they do, because as much effort as it takes to do work, creative work takes more.

Anyone can enjoy their work with a little creativity. To those of us who like creative work, it’s more addictive than caffeine. The question is, do you want to work that hard?
Dave Taylor - 1/25/2005 8:43:09 PM
Hmmm.... so now you have me wondering what happened between 700 and 1700. I realize that it wasn't the height of the creative renaissance (at least the earlier years), but surely there must have been some sort of phase? :-)

More seriously, I have to say that I don't agree with this taxonomy proposed by Andy Law because I think that creativity has been a part of work for centuries. Not necessarily the 'Frog Design' or 'Apple' sort of creativity, but surely it's a bit much to say that until the twenty-first century no-one was creative on the job, no-one exhibited 'free-thinking' 'flexibility' 'imagination' or 'enjoyment'? Further, I propose that this is also based on a peculiarly American approach of 'live to work' rather than the much healthier (in my opinion) 'work to live' philosophy of most other countries.

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