If you watched the Olympics, you probably saw the above commercial for the Cadillac ELR. Tonya from Budget and the Beach also wrote an interesting post about this topic last Friday. Definitely check out her post entitled Why Do We Work So Hard and the comments at the bottom. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the entire commercial. I heard a few of his statements and it sounded inspiring. He talked about hard-work. He dropped names like Bill Gates, the Wright Brothers and Muhammad Ali.
Here is an excerpt of what main actor in the commercials says:
Why do we work so hard? For what? For this? For stuff? Other countries they work, they stroll home, they stop by the café, they take August off. Off. Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t WE like that? Because we’re crazy driven hard working believers that’s why…
After watching it a few more times as it was constantly playing, it started to annoy me. Of course, my number one problem with the commercial is the implication that we work hard so we can buy nice things, like the Cadillac ELR and the fancy house with the infinity pool. Obviously if you read my blog, you know I’m not a fan of excessive consumerism. But I understand that this is an ad, and that their job is to sell cars.
Another issue that the actor brings up is that Americans work harder than others in other countries. He takes a jab at Europeans for strolling home after work, stopping by a café and for taking the entire month of August off. We Americans pride ourselves on hard-work and ingenuity. Of course, there is nothing wrong with these qualities. In fact, they are excellent qualities to have. But the commercial struck a chord with me because he took pride in only taking 2 weeks off. I have heard many people working in the corporate world talk about the long hours they work as a badge of honor. They post status updates on their Facebook and Twitter accounts about still being at work and being there on the weekends. A woman in Indonesia posted on Twitter that she had worked 30 hours straight and was still going strong, before she passed away. I’ve heard conversations where people compare war stories of working excessive hours with each person trying to top the other person’s story. It seems that to climb the corporate ladder, long hours, working on weekends and being accessible when you are outside of the office is a requirement. Vacation time may be available but it only means you had better complete your project ahead of time, and it probably means you’ll have more work waiting for you when you return. Sometimes, you might even be working during your vacation. My sister, who worked long hours as an auditor, told me when she was auditing a law firm, cots were provided to the attorneys there who sometimes left after she did. I remember when she worked on Mother’s Day, but was lucky enough to leave early enough to make it to dinner.
The U.S is the only major industrialized nation without a national paid sick-leave policy or mandated annual leave policy. The U.S is the only major industrialized nation that doesn’t provide paid maternity leave. Now I don’t want to get into a discussion of the economic and political ramifications of requiring such leave. I think many Americans are of the opinion that our European counterparts are somewhat lazy, and that their economic systems are doom to fail because they do not work hard enough. It is interesting to see the different mindset in different countries.
I think hard-work is the key to success. But for me, I am not willing to sacrifice valuable time spent with family and time to pursue my own interest to slave away at the office. I understand not everyone has the same values. Some may enjoy what they do, and putting in long hours on a labor of love is satisfying. I work in a job where I have set hours and rarely take work home. I’m pursuing financial freedom and early retirement so I have more time to work on my own interests, and to be able to spend more time with family and friends.
How is your work life balance? What do you think about the corporate culture in the U.S? If you are from a different country, what is your perspective on this work-life dynamic?