Talking the American Work Ethic

Seriously… it's a BBC Radio4 produced documentary style podcast. They’re really great at featuring topics that you didn’t even know you wanted to know more about.

In this episode “Work is a Four Letter Word,” host Andy Brooks examines the tenuous between your job and your free time. As Andy puts it, “Many of us have grown up with the belief that a strong work ethic is a positive thing, and that by contrast idle hands are the devil's playthings.” During the 59 minute podcast we hear why Professor Andrew Hussey, an English cultural historian, thinks that argument makes no sense at all.

We spend so much of our time trying to get ahead at our job but we spend just as much time wishing we had more free time. The need to make money means we don’t have the time for creative pursuits, yet unemployment is completely dehumanizing. Professor Hussey’s argument boils down to the idea that today’s corporate culture in particular can have a highly corrosive impact on people's lives, but by taking control of the work we do and how we do it, work can actually become a positive part of our lives. His thoughts on how French culture achieves a work/life balance are especially interesting.

The show isn’t going to offer you some magic answer to this problem. It’s not going to fix anything, but it might draw your attention to things about your own working life that you may not have noticed.

Bonus info: For help on your own work/life balance, check out this article, “5 Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance, From People Who've Been There.” The article features quotes from entrepreneurs and business executives on how they keep or at least attempt to keep some balance in their lives.