Labor Day, 2019: Vocational Awe

image of deck chairs, end of seasonOk, yesterday was actually Labor Day.  I took the day off.

Now that I’m “blogging” at my newsletter, this space has become a bit ghost-towny.  I’ve decided to occasionally share some of the newsletter posts here, too.

“Vocational awe and (short)changing the world,” first appeared in Minimum Viable Passion:  On Management #37.  I’ve edited the original piece slightly for clarity.

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And if you don’t buy into it, if you’re one of those people who say, “Well wait a minute. Yes, my job is important. Yes, I really care about my career, but I also want to have a family. I also want to engage in a robust personal life.”

Then…you become someone who is seen as less effective, solely because you’re quote-unquote “less passionate” about your job. And if you’re seen as less passionate, and therefore seen as less effective, well, then there’s no room for professional growth.

Fobazi Ettarh in conversation with me, On Management #37

Fobazi Ettarh joined me to discuss narratives about changing the world and passion in the workplace. And a concept she named, and is exploring: vocational awe.

Is an organizational mission or profession so important that it’s beyond criticism?

There’s more from Fobazi in our audio. I edited our converation for length and clarity.

link to soundcloud audio

Fobazi’s work on vocational awe is informed by her experience as an academic librarian.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  Look for vocational awe when you see a workplace narrative about being mission-driven, or passionate.  I see it in tech and startups. In not-for-profits.

At best, mission is a roadmap to a goal, not a license to treat people poorly.  Passion is an emotional state, not an achievement.

Seek to understand what’s actually being asked of you.  Also:

Passion, devotion, and awe are not sustainable sources of income.

Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Fobazi Ettarh

Fobazi Ettarh is the Undergraduate Success Librarian at Rutgers University-Newark.  She specializes in information literacy instruction, K-12 pedagogy, and co-curricular outreach.

Her research interests include equity, diversity, and inclusion in librarianship, and the ways in which societal expectations and infrastructures privilege and/or marginalize certain groups.  You’ll find more of Fobazi’s work here:

Photo:  20091128 by Douglas O’Brien, via Flickr, used under CC BY-SA 2.0.  Chuck’s cottage looks awesome.