We just moved office and I announced to the team that we were going to have to clean our own toilets. Yep, no cleaners. It’s bound to be unpopular, but I think it’s the right thing to do.
When I was a kid, my Dad used to say: “Always leave a place better than you found it”. He led by example. If we were walking outside and he saw a piece of rubbish on the street, he would pick it up and carry it until we found a bin. And there was no bit of housework that he wouldn’t or didn’t do. Sure, we could have paid a cleaner to do all that. My Dad was a PhD and had a well paying job as a Research Chemist at an oil company. It’s not about the money, which is contrary to how most people think of it.
My Dad knew about the value of work. He grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. When he was a kid, he would get up at 4:30, milking cows and shovelling shit before school. And there was a lot more to do after school. My Grandfather worked in the shipyards and used to joke that he didn’t do a day of farming in his life. That’s what the 8 kids were for.
I wasn’t lucky enough to develop a good work ethic as a kid. If I got up early, it was to watch cartoons. But I did have a good example in my Dad, and later in life I learned the hard way (though the hard way is the good way). I also learned the deeper meaning behind what my Dad used to say.
“Always leave a place better than you found it”
This is about a mindset of paying attention to and caring for your environment. It’s a responsibility that we all have. When you pay someone else to do that, you’re abdicating your responsibility. Think about the last time you properly cleaned your house from top to bottom. I’ll bet you felt more comfortable in your home, more of a sense of belonging, along with the sense of accomplishment. The same thing happens when you pick up rubbish on the street, when you look after the common parts of your neighbourhood. It happens when you vote, when you try to right a wrong, and when you help someone in need. It’s about making the world a better place.
It’s easy to pay someone else to do the menial tasks in life. It’s tempting to justify it by saying that your time is worth more than theirs. But this attitude is wrong because it’s not about the cost of a job, it’s about the value of work.