Iron rice bowl

Many people were ‘stuck’ in their jobs before the pandemic. Where are you still here? Because you are worried you can’t come back after leaving? But why do you want to come back? Because it is an iron rice bowl? What is the story you’re telling yourself about your relationship with your job if you’re thinking about the iron rice bowl story? Why do you need an unbreakable rice bowl if you don’t know how to grow and make rice for yourself?

The story of an ‘iron rice bowl’ starts with the notion of commoditised labour; that you are replaceable and that you’re a cog. Anywhere and everywhere. And when you get some kind of job with lots of benefits and it is hard for you to get fired, then that security is worth your being a cog. And so you’d conform, comply and keep the machinery going. It is not because you are irreplaceable but because the machinery is designed to keep you around, even if you’re just in a bag of spare parts, you’re still making a living.

As Seth Godin would ask, ‘why make a living when you can make a difference’. You can choose a different story about work, a story on being a linchpin; on never getting fired. It matters because if worrying about job security should not be in the domain of one who cares to make a difference, and is able to contribute a positive value.