Let our actions be the guardians of our dreams

3 Aug. 2007

If you were paid, you can’t complain!

Last weekend, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art – MCA in Sydney, to check the Latin American temporary exhibition. Amongst lots of amazing stuff reflecting the culture, strong sentiments and socio-political tensions in the region, one piece called me my attention. A Spanish artist, realising how little Mexican workers earned, paid 465 of them to crowd up an art gallery room and spend the day there. Unfamiliar with the environment, the workers first felt confused, but got increasingly comfortable in the place. The underlining message was: if you were paid to do something, you’re not supposed to discuss or complain – you were paid how much you’re worth for your time and that's it.

Seems an exaggeration?

During this week, I’ve been taking part on corporate workshops, facilitated by the consultancy I work for. Unfortunately, the Spanish artist was not amplifying the problem. Amongst almost 30 very smart people in the room, I couldn’t see one single individual with a strong purpose to be there. Conversations floated around processes, competitors, profitability and I’m pretty confident I wasn’t the only one bored. Can individuals change the whole idea of a corporation existence? Can the companies create systems which inspire people to give their bests for something worthwhile? The only thing clear to me at this point is that selling biscuits and poker machines doesn’t stimulate the best in people. (Once I read a very wise phrase, with which I couldn't agree more: money doesn't inspire the best people nor the best in people.)

But, in the end of the day, all of us were getting paid to be there. So perhaps we can’t complain...

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