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The Meatloaf Theory of Jobs

My partner and I love food. On a 0-to-10 scale, all foods have a chance of reaching the highest mark. Pizza? Definitely. Gelato? For sure. Duck? Of course. A simple loaf of bread? Hell yeah. But a meatloaf? Nope. Meatloaf maxes out at 6. Six decades of combined eating made this opinion into a fact.

A few days ago, my partner was talking about her work and how she felt it was impossible for her to do a good job. She could work hard, over communicate, do her best work, and she’d still have, at best, an impact of 6.

And there was born the meatloaf job: a job where it’s impossible to do a great job.

This reminded of David Graeber’s observation in Bullshit Jobs that people want to be the cause of events. He called it “the pleasure of being the cause.” In bullshit jobs, either people’s actions have no effect, or the effects are too far removed to be known.