Cleaning toilets

What About Cleaning Toilets?

I often promote work-life fusion, quitting jobs that are not fulfilling, and seeking work that is a calling instead of just a career. But, I hear some people think, can this be true for everyone? Is there a great job, somewhere, for every person in the world?

What about cleaning toilets?

How can this work be fulfilling to anyone?

Well, that depends…

Loving Work

Some people believe work-life fusion–seeking happiness in private life and in work-life and blurring the lines between them–could be an elitist opinion, only advocated by those who already love their jobs. Some even claim that there will always be jobs that everyone loves and jobs that everyone hates. Personally, I’m not so sure, for three reasons.

First of all, I admit, when I see someone cleaning toilets at an airport or in hotel rooms, I sometimes think, “I would never be able to find happiness in such jobs”. However, I am not everyone. I know for a fact that some people (maybe just a few) actually love cleaning! Who am I to say that nobody can love cleaning toilets? It would be an arrogant and condescending opinion that doesn’t take into account that different people have different intrinsic motivators. Mine are not better than anyone else’s.

Second, I haven’t actually tried cleaning toilets at airports and hotels. I hated running and exercising up until a few weeks ago, but now that I’m developing a habit I’m starting to notice the enjoyable parts of these activities. I’m already looking forward to running in new places and environments! Likewise, I cannot know for sure that I hate certain jobs, until I really tried. Perhaps, at some point in my life, I might even like cleaning my own house. (I’ll let you know.)

Finally, thanks to economic growth and globalization, bad jobs have a tendency to disappear and be replaced by jobs that people like. For example, in developed countries, farmers work with machines, not with their hands. Both the farmers and the ones who design and make their machines have plenty of reasons and opportunities to love their jobs. By lifting the world out of poverty, we lift many people out of hard labor and tough jobs.

And cleaning toilets? I see more and more self-cleaning toilets during my travels. The people designing them might have a lot of pride in their work.

So, does every person in the world have a chance to find work they love?

Right now, probably not. However, in a developing world the bad jobs are steadily vanishing and opportunities to try other jobs are continuously rising. At the very least, your right to say “I cannot love my work” is disappearing, fast.

image (c) 2010 Jon Seidman, Creative Commons 2.0


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  • andrefaria

    Great Article, Jurgen.
    I remember the book “How Starbucks saved my Life”. The author tells the story of how he learned to loved working at starbucks (including the part of cleaning bathrooms). Before, he was a marketing executive. His life turned upside down, but he found himself happier in his humble job at Starbucks than he was before… Interesting. =)

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