Fast Company Article January/February 2000 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Fast Company Article January/February 2000 Tina Meyers

"A Living or a Life?" pages 256-267

The article entitled "A Living or a Life?" is one of the most interesting articles I have read to date. The article is about a previous Harvard Business School instructor named Mark Albion and his philosophical transformation from being a successful marketing wunderkind to fatefully deciding his mission of life.

As a teacher, Albion found that many of his students had one common goal and that was solely to increase their net worth. When asked why his students chose Harvard business school; the answer was resounding, they wanted to learn how to make more money. Albion became extremely disheartened and began to question himself. "While my high-paying, high-prestige job made me the envy of my neighbors, I could feel the life being sucked out of me." By replacing the societal definition of success, Albion struggled with whether one can make a living and have a life at the same time. He was no longer content with "business as usual" and he decided to resign from his position at Harvard to do work that mattered.

How does a successful, tenured faculty from a highly prestigious college begin to refocus and find the right job? Albion invented a job for himself. He started a business and wrote a book, and also started an electronic newsletter, all about his experiences on "how to navigate your escape from the rat race." Once determined that he was going to challenge himself while not getting lost in the same old grind, he asked himself some very important questions: What do I believe in? What are my values? Am I doing work that matters?

Meshing work with his personal values, Albion became involved with teaching again. A group called Students for Responsible Business was launched that allowed Albion to travel across the country and speak to business student graduates that were looking for work that could be both personally and financially rewarding for them. You & Co., was born from this endeavor. Recently graduated MBA's now have access to a company that will help them find a job with a socially conscious and responsible company. Albion's journey has not been an easy one, but has its rewards. He has found the answer to his question: You can make a living and have a life.

I enjoyed this article tremendously! Personal struggles are part of daily life, but when you begin to question your believes and struggle with your conscience it will inevitably begin to break you down. I found it somewhat ironic that Albion, who was once a Harvard business student, began to question the quest for fame and fortune only after he had attained it. I think that often we want what we don't have and sometimes work extremely hard to get it only to find out it really wasn't worth it or it wasn't what we really wanted. All part of the "human factor", we need to look into our own conscience and ask the same questions that Albion asked:

What do I believe in? I believe in faith, my family, and being the best I can be for my students and family. I believe that I cannot function without unity and compassion or work with others that do not value the same.

What do I value? I value honesty and hard work. I value the bond of family and the interrelationship between student and teacher. I value a fundamental form of democracy in our country that allows individuals to critically think and cleave to their own beliefs. I value the biological ecosystems we have been blessed with and enjoy. And I value respect for others and myself in a field that is sometimes less than respected by policy makers and nay-sayers.

Am I doing work that matters? Yes! Teachers go by day-to-day, year-to-year, and often hear only the negative quips about teachers. We live in a state that under values education, even though we continue to facilitate learning nationally at a higher than average scale. It is easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, but when asked the question again, am I doing work that matters? You bet! I make a difference every day I go to work. There is nothing that compares to a student that tells you that you have helped them with their self-esteem, you've helped them obtain skills that got them the job they had been hoping for, or that you were there for students when they needed someone to talk to. I make a difference and it is that realization that makes my job rewarding. It is what makes the life or a living question and what I do, an integrated whole.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2000

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