Friday, November 01, 2019

The moral horizon we choose to inhabit

What is the definition of honest work? 

Perhaps it means a career that isn’t the best paying. Or a project that is unglamorous, but legal and useful to the world. Maybe honest work is a holding a mundane day job that provides a living for your family, even though it’s not your primary meaning container for holding your hopes and dreams. 

Then again, honest work might refer to a street performer generously sharing her creative gift with the world for spare change on the weekends, even though she doesn’t really need the money. 

Zelizer, the scientist who researched the social meaning of currency, offers a deeply human definition for the phrase, an honest dollar:

Money not stained by its ethically dubious origins. 

What’s beautiful about this explanation is, it’s less about the payment for the work and more about the posture with which we approach it. 

And so, it’s a concept that can be applied to everything we do, paid or unpaid, personally or professionally, throughout our lives. Our honest work is a function of the moral horizon we choose to inhabit. 

Here are some definitions from my own experience:

If it is not a strategy we use to trick other people into giving us what we want, that’s honest work. 

If it is not a reverse psychology technique we pull to convince the rabbit that it’s actually duck season, that’s honest work. 

If it is not a spiritual jujitsu move that manipulates life into granting us all of our desires, that’s honest work. 

It’s all a function of the moral horizon we choose to inhabit. 

What’s your definition of honest work?
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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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