Friday, April 10, 2009

The fact in the fiction

I was talking with a friend last night who is thinking of leaving his day job to start a new business.

Yes, he’s thinking about it even in this economic climate.

His rationale is that while the BigCo’s cut costs, programs, and people, innovation will spin out towards the industrial periphery.  We’re in for a few years of small shops and virtual teams until the industry starts to condense back towards the majors again.

Now, he reasons. is a good time to build evidence, value and position for the future: late winter before the economic spring.

His problem is, he can’t say ‘Look, I want to go do what you won’t.”  Instead, his attorney is recommending a vague white-ish lie: “I want to spend more time with my family / health / grandkids / interests /  traveling / giving back.” (Slate recently reviewed this time-honored strategy)  It’s a safe gambit: BigCo has a short memory and wavering focus.  Chances are that nobody will ever check up on how all that quality time is going.

Still, I think that there is more than a little truth in this.

First, if he really believes his own hype that he’s quitting his old job just so that he can show BigCo how things ought to be done, he’s doomed.   There had better be some leavening wisdom in his excuse just to help him keep his sanity.

Second, given a choice, who wouldn’t want to go pursue their own interests?

Why plunge straight back into the same less-fulfilling lifestyle, a combination of ‘do more with less’ work and evaporating benefits.  Like the post-9/11 period, I know that the downturn has stimulated talk among friends about proper work-life balance. Some have voluntarily cut their hours at work in response to management programs for payroll reduction, allowing them to put more emphasis on the lasting and fulfilling parts of their life.

I may only make another evening or two a week available for dinner with friends or life-drawing with charcoals. But, with spring blossoming across South Limburg, a goal of ‘taking more time for…” sounds like a good resolution nestling within my friend’s fiction.


Unknown said...

First of all, I wish you a vrolijk pasen! Second, this is a topic I myself I hope works for your friend. It's a challenge... But if they have the drive/determination & means to do it, then they should go for it. Absolutely!

Dave Hampton said...

Many thanks for the good wishes and the encouragement! Have a great weekend, be sure to enjoy the intermittant sunshine :)