Artisans - The Price We Pay.
Balancing who we are with what we do.
This is the first paid subscriber-only post and starts a journey from exploring the idea of New Artisans to setting a path to practice as a small community.
I don’t see too many rich Artisans, although I see rich artists (and a lot of poor ones), rich business people and rich celebrities. On the other hand, I see I many fulfilled Artisans and a lot of miserable business people, celebrities and those with regular salaries, and have been thinking about what makes the difference.
Part of it, I suspect, is about choice. Whether we have chosen the work we do or it has chosen us. Something about occupation versus vocation, whether the work is something we do for others or something that we do for ourselves, and which becomes a core part of our identity. Part of it is about whether we accept the narrative we are given by our families, our education, or the parameters of the organisations that we become part of.
There is also the impact of the way we value things. Over the last forty years or so, since deregulation here in the UK and the “big bang”, we have steadily moved to monetising everything in order to create economic growth. A key result is that we have come to measure everything in terms of money and, in particular, those areas where vocation has played a key part. We know that measuring vocational work in performative terms kills the joy of it. So we cannot be surprised when those areas focus on financial reward as an indication of how the rest of society values them. When we have doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters all going on strike, and the dominant narrative of the negotiations is expressed by one side in terms of the work they do and by the other purely on their cost, it raises uncomfortable questions on how we value the infrastructure of our communities.
Perhaps fragility also plays a part. The “half-life” of organisations and careers alike is shortening as the impact of global sourcing and technology combine to increase “churn”. The average life expectancy of a business is a little over seven years before it is changed by acquisition, merger or failure, and people entering the workforce today can expect to have twelve or more different jobs in their lifetime, with many of those jobs as yet undefined. With such short-term horizons, it is not surprising we end up with opportunism as a shared characteristic of businesses and careers.
The end result is that Artisans pay a price when what they value is not valued by “The Market”
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