A Profession Is Not a Personality - Deepstash
A Profession Is Not a Personality

A Profession Is Not a Personality



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You Are More Than Your Work

You Are More Than Your Work

  • Reducing yourself to any single characteristic, whether it be your title or your job performance, is a deeply damaging act.
  • Too many people who work hard and strive for success self-objectify as excellent work machines and tools of performance.
  • Strivers seek professional success to deliver satisfaction and happiness. But self-objectification makes both impossible, setting us up for a life of joyless accomplishment and unreachable goals followed by the tragedy of inevitable decline.

To be happy, we need to throw off these chains we put on ourselves.


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Objectification At Work

Objectification lowers well-being. Research shows, for example, that when people are reduced by others to physical attributes through objectifying stares or harassment, it can lower self-confidence and competence in tasks. The philosopher Immanuel Kant referred to this as becoming “an Object of appetite for another,” at which point “all motives of moral relationship cease to function.”

Physical objectification is just one type. Objectification at work is another, and an especially injurious one.


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Accessing Your Self Worth

The case against objectifying others is fairly straightforward. Less obvious but equally damaging is when the objectifier and the person being objectified are one and the same.

Humans are capable of objectifying themselves in many ways—by assessing their self-worth in terms of their physical appearance, economic position, or political views, for example—but all of them boil down to one damaging core act: reducing one’s own humanity to a single characteristic, and thus encouraging others to do so as well.


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Being A Self-Objectifier

Ask yourself a few questions, and answer them honestly.

  • Is your job the biggest part of your identity? Is it the way you introduce yourself, or even understand yourself?
  • Do you find yourself sacrificing love relationships for work? Have you forgone romance, friendship, or starting a family because of your career?
  • Do you have trouble imagining being happy if you were to lose your job or career? Does the idea of losing it feels a little like death to you?

If you answered affirmatively to any or all of these, recognize that you will never be satisfied as long as you objectify yourself.


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Get Some Space

Use this principle in your professional life. To begin with, it should be the main goal of your vacation—to get a break from work and spend time with people you love. As obvious as this may sound, that means taking your vacation, and not working during it at all.

Your employer should thank you for doing so: I have been a chief executive and can assure you that I wanted only employees who worked with their whole heart and free will. If they needed to leave, I wanted them to leave.


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Have Friends Other Than Work

Having friends outside your professional circles is important. Striking up friendships with people who don’t have any connection to your professional life encourages you to develop nonwork interests and virtues, and thus be a fuller person.

The way to do this goes hand in hand with recommendation No. 1: Don’t just spend time away from work; spend it with people who have no connection to your work.


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The Bottomline

We all want to stand out in some way, and working harder than others and being better at our jobs seems a straightforward way to do so. This is a normal human drive, but it can nonetheless lead to destructive ends.

The great irony is that by trying to be special, we end up reducing ourselves to a single quality, and turning ourselves into cogs in a machine of our own making.

Don’t make this mistake. You are not your job, and I am not mine. Take your eyes off the distorted reflection, and have the courage to experience your full life and true self.


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