Don’t assume that we are all motivated primarily by the need for ever more wealth and power

Laura Freeman writes engagingly about the life choices of Generation Z in The Times today. As someone who is comfortably more than twice the age of the author I am unapologetically part of the Baby Boomer lucky generation. Once vaccination had sorted the risk of polio and other nasties in the early 1950s my prospects for a long life were good. My schooling was sufficiently good for me to be the first in my family to get a degree and employment opportunities were, if not unlimited, not that restricted.

So then it came down to ambition. It never occurred to me to try and be rich, I did want to be fulfilled though. A 40 year career with a multinational did the fulfilment bit. The money was good along the way – not “fat cat” good but there were never wolves at the door.

My motivation all along was job satisfaction. On one occasion I chose a job that was technically a demotion because it was so interesting. On another I chose a very challenging assignment overseas where I would have to work in a language I didn’t speak. Foolhardy ? Maybe a bit. Fulfilling? You bet !

I mostly worked 40 hour weeks, though as an ex-pat from time to time this was difficult. I never quite got the need for a good work/life balance – if you enjoy your job why would you worry if it impinges upon your non work life a bit? I always needed to be stretched and rarely repeated myself. A new challenge was always available it seemed.

I was never a head honcho at the highest level. I didn’t have that ambition and nor did I have the the drive for power and wealth that many who “made it” did have. Yes I was lucky that my more modest achievements matched my modest ambition. And that I was well paid to do jobs I always enjoyed. Never once did I look for nor accept a job I didn’t want to do – even if the promotion would move me a step up the ladder.

My career is not a model for anyone and I was lucky that my opportunities were not limited by my slightly perverse approach. It may not be the same today – it probably isn’t. But employing organisations should not assume that we are all motivated primarily by the need for ever more wealth and power.

One thought on “Don’t assume that we are all motivated primarily by the need for ever more wealth and power

  1. Personal satisfaction and contentment are priceless achievements Paddy.
    In my case, I retired very early from a stressful career in London after a mental breakdown. I was fortunate in having the means to travel and basically drop out of the entire career business. The Thatcher period began my disillusion with British society and I have never set foot there since. I also learned that what’s good for one is not necessarily right for another. However, in my case, it saved my life. I believe we had the luck to be the Goldilocks generation.
    Subsequent ones are not so fortunate.


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