Over the weekend, the wife and I had BBC World News on the TV while we both were catching up with the virtual world in our living room, and they were doing an investigation into maternity and paternity leave in European countries as opposed to the US.
I’m not getting into that debate, but there was a point where they were interviewing a Dutch mother about her career, and the leave she took both pre and post-birth. What made my wife and I both stop what we were doing was her admission that she didn’t see why it was necessary to always “excel” at her career, but that just being OK was enough. She didn’t consider being outstanding at her job to be anything that was all that important in the grand scheme of things.
Her comment stood in sharp contrast to everything we talk about in the legal and technology field, right? We brag about how we only employ “A+ players”, the best of the best, and that’s how we keep our competitive edge over the competition. That’s true, but have we ever stopped to ask ourselves why we demand so much of employees, and what that does to the rest of their lives?
Look, it’s no secret that the Netherlands scores quite significantly higher than the US when it comes to happiness and life satisfaction. Many other countries do as well, and one of the things they have in common is that they are also not as innovative, rich, and driven as the US is. So, there’s a cost to the way the Dutch look at life and careers, but should we start to wonder if many Americans aren’t looking at the Dutch, and Nordic countries that de-emphasize the career to some degree, and see the costs that we pay to remain this way?
Would it surprise you if much of the Great Resignation is people who aren’t willing to continue paying those costs? Who are looking to forge their own path, one that doesn’t involve the continued career arms race of always doing, and being, more in order to get ahead, at the expense of everything else in life?
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