You are so much more than your work

business-2056020_1280“You are what you eat” was a program on Swedish TV3 a few years ago. The hostess of the show, Anna Skipper, would during these programs teach a number of celebrities how they could get better eating habits by ”skipping” some products and change to healthier alternatives and get better lives. We may assume that the title of the program was aiming at showing that an unhealthy person doesn´t feel well, performs badly, becomes an inferior partner and are less satisfied with himself. I myself was somewhat skeptical about the program because I neither liked the methods or Skippers hysterical ways and approach.

”Over coaching” an individual who is not on the level as the coaching part expects is just as wasted as not making an effort at all. People who lack self-esteem, as opposed to self-confidence, will always look for things in the environment to fill the void that a low self-esteem leaves. Dieting, shopping, social networking, capital goods, travels and work …

In his book ”I’m Right, You are wrong” Edward De Bono criticizes the western way of life, pointing at and questioning a number of phenomena where Western man in his foolishness believes to be superior to the rest of the world, despite the fact that society fails considerably and many people in the Western civilization are unhappy. Unhappy, never being able to live up to the ideal image expected.

One of the strongest cultures that Western society has built up over the decades is the way to look at work and the approach to it. In particular, in the United States and Western Europe you are what you are working with – a stronger culture than the health trend. Who does not recognize oneself in, when meeting with an unknown person for the first time, hearing the opening phrase: what do you do for a living? As if a person unknown to you can get an idea of who you are based on knowing about your job. This culture does not exist among most immigrant Muslims, who always puts and always will put their faith first. Faith in God will always be number one. The fact that Sweden is one of the most secularized countries in the world, where the words God, religion and faith is challenged with suspicion, arises one of the major problems in creating successful immigration and according to me the misused word ”integration”.

Because faith is about life and death and the way of living, it becomes difficult to maintain the attitude that faithful Muslims should fully adapt to the Swedish ways of life. However, we can question our own pursuit of happiness, to quote the title from one of my favorite films. Chris Gardner, portrayed by Will Smith, hunting for luck in the movie ”Pursuit of Happiness” is based on the idea that happiness is to be found in the surroundings, never within oneself. This hunt will be, as in the movie, absurd and on the verge of breaking one down because while some do succeed, it claims many victims. Social exclusion in the US is one of the worst in the world and Sweden are on track to go the same way. It is not about the rich class oppressing the poor, but involves a number of untalented political decisions that seem to have serious consequences. Finally, the day will come on which the excluded class will revolt, which obviously is dangerous for both the individual and the society. I also think it is precisely because of this that for example SEB’s new CEO is concerned about the increased gaps in the Swedish society.

Labour market and economic climate fluctuates more frequently and the need to be able to shift about the human capital becomes more significant. A working individual needs to find more profound things to hold on to than just the identity as professional. The working identity will become more fragile in the future and for the transition to go as fast as possible, people in the Western society needs to find other values in life. If we cling on to a professional identity, it will take longer and cost more money to find a new. This is also what Internewgration is all about – you are so much more than your work!


Niklas Liiv February 15th