Saturday, August 1, 2015

Occupational hazards

"a risk accepted as a consequence of a particular occupation" - this is how occupational hazard is defined somewhere in the web. The term evokes pictures of construction workers without helmets, or miners inhaling toxic fumes. My theory is that a lot of professions toy with your mind in ways that create mental structures that can be termed as occupational hazards as well. I have jotted down a few based on my experiences, and from observing people around me. 

May be some psychologist twiddling his thumbs through a doctoral thesis can capture this much better. There you go, this is an example of entrepreneurs' occupational hazard of believing he is a better "ideas guy" than others. 

Doctors: Low on pain empathy. You see 100 patients with different levels of distress, I guess your ability to feel for someone's back ache becomes low after a while.

Investment Bankers: The obvious one is the belief that reality is just an extension of what happens with excel sheets. The more subtle one is the belief that they are fulfilling god's duty by making sure money reaches the right places/people. They also suffer from I-am-totally-worth-it-is - an affliction that makes you search for reasons that justify your own high pay. Where one who said "I dont know why I get paid so much for this" in his first year, can somehow no longer say that in his eighth year of banking, even though work is only 0.4x of what it was in first year, but pay is 5x of what it was. I-Bankers also start inhabiting their own world where big ideas matter more than small piece of execution. I cannot even have conversations with some of my friends who have been I-bankers for a while (too long for their own good). They worry about the impact of Cyprus's potential implosion on the world economy, via contagion through the EU tentacles. I begin thinking "How cool would it be if a fruit were also called Cyprus?"  

Entrepreneurs: These guys suffer from many of these. The most prominent being their appreciation of risk appetite rather than output. "Jo bhi ho, daring to kiya na" is the phrase one of the 'taporis' uses in Rangeela to describe a poor soul that has professed love to the beautiful girl in the mohalla. Entrepreneurs are wont to think like this. Call it justification for their own decision, or a kindred spirit feeling towards anyone trying to do something alone, Entrepreneurs have this balls-before-everything-else bias. 

So, they have an unhealthy contempt towards people employed in professions where they do not have to stick their neck out - consultants spring to mind. To entrepreneurs their world view of this group is very similar to the famous quote on critics - "Critics are like eunuchs in a harem: they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves." Entrepreneurs will often (too often for their own good) discount good advice from well-meaning people because these well-meaning people lack the one quality that entrepreneurs claim is mandatory - sticking one's neck out.

Teachers: Moralititis Teachers, doctors, nurses, priests, researchers and a bunch of low-paying but useful professions have this belief that what their industry economics takes away can be offset by the joy/pride/sheer usefulness to society their job provides. So, this manifests in many ways - 1. Preachitis: Affects people in Godly professions more. They are blessed with sanctimony and view the world as something they can change by their mere presence. 2. Communistitis: Everything rich people do is wrong. Anyone who is rich would have gamed the system. I am glad I am not rich. 3. Justification-itis: People in these professions somehow find the need to say that money is not that important in life. 

Telecallers probably suffer from low self-esteem: You call 100 people a day. 90 of them dismiss you with disdain. These are what you would call your good calls. 9 of the remaining 10 scream at you for calling them. You con the 100th one into buying something worthless. Being taken seriously one in 100 times must be soul-sapping

Social workers suffer from holier-than-thou-itis; Real estate agents suffer from ethicsisnonsenseitis; CAs have knowitallitis. Politicians suffer from delusions of grandeur. TV personalities suffer from delusions of adequacy. 

If you know of any other prominent hazards, please chip in.

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