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Bare Minimum Monday's ... Really?
As if Quiet Quitting isn't bad enough, now comes its evil cousin Bare Minimum Monday, the newest nod to those who just, no matter how hard they try or care, can't find it within themselves to give a rat's you-know-what about the work they are paid to perform. Oh, sorry. Should I have said "no matter how hard they don't try or care?" Yes, I think so. Bare Minimum Monday. Give me a break.
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The Decline of Work Ethic Imperils Society
I am tempted to note here how this epidemic of not caring enough to devote one's energy and focus to the betterment of all, no matter what the job may be (can I get my mega-frappy-lappy-happy with foam on top in a real mug please?) is a major player in this mess we are all in. I don't, only because it is so blatantly obvious. Too many of us don't care enough to work at our work.
This term (Bare Minimum Monday) has been popularized by a TikToker, who describes it as a way for her to quell the work pressure and hold herself accountable to “completing the least amount of work necessary to get by that day.” ... “I had to tell myself to do the bare minimum in order to not make myself sick over how productive I was being,” she says in the video. 1
Imagine: holding yourself accountable to completing the least amount of work necessary to get through the workday and being made sick by your own productivity.
This really should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. We haven't cared enough for a long time. Not enough to work at our relationships when they need it (guilty), not enough to put down the ice cream and get into the gym (definitely guilty), not enough to think for ourselves about the important matters of life and government (maybe less guilty), and not enough to care and work on society's biggest problems (racism, poverty, education, etc., etc., etc.). But we have lots of energy and effort devoted to blaming everyone else, demanding (or just taking) what we haven't earned, being destructive and divisive in the name of "me-ism." Yep, there is plenty of energy and enthusiasm for these endeavors. Why should our work life be any different?
As that great philosopher Pogo once said: "We have met the enemy and he is us." 2
I Blame All Those Participation Trophies
We know the problem, but who is to blame? The "I don't care enough to do what needs to be done" attitude came from somewhere.
It has been a long slide down a slippery slope, which seems to have suddenly turned over-the-cliff-edge steep. Quiet Quitting, Resenteeism, and now Bare Minimum Monday are symptoms of a much greater ill. There is no one person or one movement to blame. It is pervasive, and the collective "we" allowed it to happen. Shame on us. Seriously.
As a not-so-tongue-in-cheek illustration, I point to the participation trophy phenomenon that started a few decades ago. Everyone on the team gets one, regardless of their enthusiasm, energy, effort, or contribution. Trophy shops loved it. Today, generations on from the outset and further down the slippery slope, we are where we are. Can we really be surprised? We taught our kids that being truly invested in the enterprise did not matter. Just show up, that is all that is required. You get to wear the uniform, hang out in the team picture, and you'll have that gleaming trophy to prove your value to yourself forever.
This isn't just a kid/parent thing, but I think you get the point. Parents rush to solve every child's every problem. Governments do the same. Both parents and government spend money they don't have putting band aids on bumps instead of letting the kids and populace struggle, learn, overcome, and achieve. We have robbed our society of possibly its biggest lesson - how to live and contribute through honesty, integrity, effort, merit, compassion, and love.
The Choice We Must Each Make
Regardless of what your career, position, and aspirations are, each one of us must make a choice. Are we going to be our best, or are we just going to do enough to get by? Are we going to strive, persevere, endure through tough times, or will we take the easy way? We decide if we are going to be part of the solution or the problem.
We've had a few generations worth of struggles lately and it feels like we should be allowed to just take it easy for a change, but that decision gets you, me, and all of us nowhere. That decision, at best, solidifies inertia and a continuance of the current state.
Decide instead to be part of the solution. Achieve the old-fashioned way: dream, aspire, work, persevere, and make it happen. Do that for yourself and the rest of us will be better off. Be an example of making everyone better by being better.
The Adults in the Room Need to Step Up
In this instance, being an adult is not about age. It is about heart. What are we to do about this mess? Here's a thought: get serious about being serious. This stuff matters, a lot. Start paying attention. Do what you can do in your own space. You're a parent? Take it seriously. You're a CEO? Take it seriously. You're a new worker? Work hard. Be a problem solver. Contribute. Learn. Excel. Achieve. Help. Help others who can't. Show them the way. Be a serious rookie. Be an all-star. Be generous with your time and heart. Make yourself and others better. Help someone up.
You want to make things better? Work for it. Pour your heart into it. Earn the trophy!
Prarthana Prakash. ‘Bare Minimum Monday’ is the latest workplace trend hitting productivity, Fortune, February 13, 2023
Walt Kelly, Pogo Cartoonist