Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wolfe's Theory of 4 Workers

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  I've been observing people and what makes them good at what they do and what makes them bad.  I think this idea is applicable in all aspects of life.  Most obviously it applies to our careers that we have to earn a living, but it also applies to every human endeavor that you take on: from recreational sports to sweeping the kitchen floor.  I've come up with a theory.  It is that there are 4 types of workers: Good Workers, Bad Workers, Mediocre Workers, and Miracle Workers.

All of us are workers of some sort.  It takes effort to survive in life.  Whether you live on a desert island, in an advanced, free civilization, a slave labor camp, or in a small farming village.  The kind of work may vary, but we all need to work in order to survive.  What's the difference between all these? Let's work our way up from the bottom:

  • Level 1: The Bad Worker doesn't do anything you tell him to.  He sucks at what he does and he refuses to try. You tell him to do something and it just flat out doesn't happen.
  • Level 2: The Mediocre Worker does what you tell him in a very literal sense.  But that's it.  Nothing more. He does what you tell him, but he can't or won't interpret WHY something must be done, and understand its significance.  
  • Level 3: The Good Worker does what you tell him and more: he can understand what he needs you to do before you tell him.  He knows what his job is, and when you do ask him for something, he understands its significance and even if your instructions were not to the letter what you needed or required some further interpretation, he gets it done without any fuss.  
  • Level 4: The Miracle Worker is on another plane entirely.  Not only can he complete what you need him to do without you telling him, he completes things before you even knew they needed to be done.  He is the first person to recognize an opportunity and seizes it before anyone else knows there was a need.  These are the inventors and the innovators and only show up once in one million people.  
Now on the surface it looks like the presence of the Bad Worker disproves my idea that life requires effort, but this is not the case.  Life always requires effort, but you have to ask, "who is expending the effort?"  It might not be the same person who is breathing at that point.  If we have a mooch on our hands, and he is making a comfortable existence, he may not be working, but you can be sure that someone is, in order for him to survive.  If you are a mooch, you are either a 6 year old, or you're acting like one!

Also, I suppose that throughout life, depending on the task at hand, a person can pass through all four of these stages.  I'm probably very mediocre at things like teaching pre-schoolers how to dance.  In that endeavor, I'd require a significant amount of guidance to maintain Level 2 and without it, I would wallow in the depths of Level 1 Bad Workerdom.  I'd like to think that in my career, however, I'm a solid level 3.  I am as of yet unable to recognize opportunities that would push me to the top. For that I need to invent the next electronic device everyone wants.

The whole point of this is that when I hear people complain about how they can't get ahead in life, no matter how hard they work, and that life is too hard, life takes too much work, life isn't fair, I find that the reason is because these people are only doing what they're told.  They only do the bare minimum in their jobs to get by, and can't possibly fathom any deeper understanding or chase any additional goals that weren't specifically set for them by someone else.  They're wallowing in Level 2 mediocrity.  

So which kind are you?