Sketch: What do you do?

what do you doWe often define ourselves by what we do. For many of us this is a paid job, raising a family or taking care of a loved one. I believe a first step towards more job satisfaction is to stop judging ourselves by what we do and instead use our work as an opportunity to get to know who we are.

Job snobbery

We live in a world where the first thing we’re often asked is: “What do you do?” Alain de Botton calls this phenomenon job snobbery. In his TED talk ‘A kinder, gentler philosophy of success’ he explains, that a snob is anybody who takes a small part of you, and uses that to come to a complete vision of who you are. According to how we answer: “What do you do?”, people will be either incredibly delighted to see us, or look at their smartphone and walk away.

Who would you like to meet?

I believe the first step to happier work is to explore, how we feel about different jobs. This is what this week’s sketch is about. Let’s have a look. Who would you like to meet? The successful lawyer, the Indian yogi, the world class tennis player, the astronaut or the cowboy?

what do you do

If I search within myself, I would certainly feel more comfortable, more excited to have a chat with the astronaut or the yogi. I imagine the lawyer to be slightly boring, the tennis player to be full of himself and the cowboy to be a macho.


What did I just say? I took a small part of someone, their job, to come to a complete vision of who they are. Sounds like job snobbery to me.

Being ok with what you do

The problem with job snobbery is that it narrows our view of the world. Sooner or later we start applying it to ourselves. Our inner critic will start judging us by what we do at work. He will observe us, well aware of our strengths and weaknesses, taking notes whenever we feel overwhelmed. Believing in job snobbery, we will conclude that to become a better person we will have to get a better job.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should stop looking for a better job. I’m only suggesting that whatever job you do, you will always be the same person.

The hours we spend working help us to earn a living. Work allows us to use and sharpen our skills, connect to people we would have otherwise never met. Most important, through the ups and downs at work we will get a feeling of what truly matters to us, helping us to find out who we are.


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