With vs. For

Working with someone is far different than for someone. 

With implies a group effort…people coming together with a common goal. Everyone shares in the load and everyone enjoys a share in the ultimate outcome.

For tells a different story…one of authority, power and non-inclusion. It’s a quid pro quo system. The boss makes a plan, the people below carry it out and get paid for their time. 

People enjoy being part of something…it’s what drives humans towards communal activity. It’s the reason we join book clubs, travel together, and volunteer for a common cause. It’s the purpose behind the activity which creates the enrollment. And so the work has deeper meaning than a paycheck transaction. All meaningful cultural change has this system built in. With requires a purpose. Otherwise the work is simply a transaction.

But there’s a benefit to the For system. Freedom from accountability. It’s clean and much more simple. The worker puts forth effort and is rewarded for the effort. And if the plan fails, ultimately there’s someone else to blame. The greater the effort, the greater the reward. Work faster and solve more complicated problems and we’ll pay you more. This feels safe for a lot of people. But it’s not sustainable. People will run on the hamster wheel for awhile, faster and faster. But over time it’s tiring and unchallenging. And their work diminishes…and a replacement is found.

So there’s a trade-off between freedom from accountability and complete unity around a cause. One is completely transactional and requires cogs. The other gives people a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves and make a difference.

Words matter…a lot. Choose wisely.