Thoughts for No One in Particular

A mountainous task to balance

Yesterday was a holiday in my homeland called “Mountain Day,” a day to have a chance to get to know mountains better and be thankful of the benefits we reap from them. As with another similar holiday of ours, “Marine Day,” I did not know much about this day, as it is a newly created holiday which came into effect this year.


So, I did some studying before scribbling about it here… and my conclusion: it does not seem to have any historical significance or other compelling grounds for establishment as its maritime counterpart. And as I observed the people around me and checked the news all day today to see how the day was celebrated yesterday, I must say, it is highly likely that the day is taken as it is defined only by avid mountain-lovers.


Nevertheless, I believe it was a good thing that we have created this day. To the majority, it is an extra day off from work to spend additional time with kids (who are unaffected by the new holiday because they are already in their summer break). As my people are known, famously or infamously, to work long hours with little or no overtime compensation, I am hoping that this new holiday will spark a much-needed discussion about work-life balance.


In particular, I am hoping to see a change in the “work” side of the balance. Owing much to the generation before me, many of us have much richer lives today with economic growths and technological advancements they brought about. But, although our “life” side has seen much gain, the “work” side has remained still – also owing much to the generation before me, many of us are expected to approach work much in the same ways they have, when lives were not as rich.


We are expected to give our full time, effort, and heart… our everything.

We are expected to do as we are told, without questions, and do just that until we get somewhere.

We are expected to keep going blindly, even if we receive no credit or acknowledgement for our accomplishments, and even when facing difficult situations and severe setbacks alone.


The generation before me likes to call this “grit,” and criticizes us for not having enough of it when we do not meet their expectations. But I disagree.


Maybe it is not about “grit,” when we have many other things in life than work that draw our attention.

Maybe it is not about “grit,” when have doubts about where we are headed because we are not shown clear direction or goals.

Maybe it is not about “grit,” when we are given no appropriate rewards or adequate support.


Some, like a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and psychology professor A.D., define “grit” as “the passion and perseverance for long-term goals,” and say those who do not show it have not grown up.


But maybe we do not show the expected “grit” in work because long-term goals are unclear to persevere in its attainment, making us want to pursue other more attractive passions we have in our lives.

Or, maybe long-term goals are much more near-sighted than they used to be in an ever rapidly changing world today, making our passion and perseverance much more short-lived.


Maybe in this day and age, “grit” is no longer the sole factor in work that balances out with life, and we need to find other scales to measure work productivity and satisfaction.

So, maybe it is not about younger generations growing up to show “grit” – maybe it is about the society growing out of “grit.”


Having said all this, I still think “grit” – however you define it – is a critical factor in work.

Maybe it will be a mountainous task to change the way my people (and possibly your people as well) approach work. But I am hoping that we will show “grit” in bringing about change in the “work” side of the balance to improve productivity and satisfaction in this new age, so that it will finally level out with the richer “life” side we have already attained.


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