The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative
Issue 10 | October 2021


"Why Do We Work Too Much?"

As the ambiguity of COVID-19 continues to impact our health and our work, it is fitting to reflect on how and why we work the way we do. In this recent New Yorker piece, the author presents us with an interesting trend in the post-industrial economy much of the Western world finds itself in. That is a seemingly infinite amount of opportunity and the cultural shift towards larger and larger ambitions. If we take these two things in moderation, we can see a very optimistic outlook on the future of work. But, unfortunately, moderation isn't the case for most of us in the workforce. 

As the piece points out, chronic busyness is an issue across the economic board. It is easy for those working in larger organizations to point towards managers and excessive growth goals that hold our feet to the fire. When we look at the world in this way, it is easy to see the drive to over-work ourselves as one created by our boss, the owner, or other influential individuals.

But what about those of us in a more autonomous work setting? COVID-19 has led more and more people to start their own businesses, and these individuals "exist in a liminal zone: a place where they toil...twenty percent more than they really have time for," and the piece suggests. So, what's the deal? When you don't have a boss to blame, what can we do to limit that extra 20 percent in our lives?

The answer, it seems, lies in how we organize our tasks and overall workload and how we prioritize them. Read more in this thought-provoking piece.

What do you think?

"A Framework for Character Education in Schools"

As we think about how we structure our work in established organizations and more autonomous settings, the idea of character often comes to mind. Sometimes seen as a polarizing subject, studies have linked character development to the culture around an individual. Furthermore, if we want individuals and societies to flourish, we need to examine how we intentionally or unintentionally develop characters and virtues in our students.

In this article, we see an exciting framework for intentional character development in schools. We see this as a precursor to changing the way we think about work. How does our character influence our priorities? What about the ways we relate to our communities and the problems we face?

In the framework, we see concrete suggestions for adjusting a school's culture. And indeed, these are based on individual students' needs and the collective group. The article also provides a list of virtues that teachers cultivate in their students. The list holds the needs and experiences of others equally with the needs of the student. What's more, the framework suggests that we need to integrate these virtues and the character they build into all levels of teaching. This way of thinking aligns importantly with entrepreneurial learning and discovery. We can teach this type of learning in any variety of classes, not just a business or management course.

Check out the framework



"What's the next big idea? Neo-Aristotelianism."

Following on from our discussion of virtues and character development, we move into a discussion of ethics. An exciting resurgence of Aristotle's ethics, Neo-Aristotelianism, provides a deeper understanding of how we develop ethics. Much has been written about Aristotle's good and virtuous life. And, there is a movement among policymakers, psychologists, and philosophers towards these teachings again. The goal of eudaimonia, or the highest form of welfare and well-being a human can achieve, is at the core of this philosophical movement.

"The good life, Aristotle argued, is the life that develops our nature to its fullest potential so that it achieves flourishing or eudaimonia. Ethics, therefore, needs to be based on good solid psychology."

Neo-Aristotelianism sees an interesting insertion of modern psychology with classic philosophy. Indeed, the founders of cognitive behavior therapy found many truths in Aristotle's writings on well-being. As we review how we connect with society and ourselves, perhaps this politics of optimism can offer us a guiding light.

Learn more

"Ethics Pays"

“Is good ethics good for business? Crime and sleazy behavior sometimes pay off handsomely. People would not do such things if they didn’t think they were more profitable than the alternatives.”

With topics of climate change, societal inequity, and governance at the forefront of many big thinkers’ minds, we need to talk about the role of ethics in business. This piece suggests that while unethical behavior may have a certain appeal, such as prioritizing growth over impact, it does not benefit the company in the long run. From creating customer trust, employee buy-in and retention, and other corporate benefits, an ethical culture for a business leads to better outcomes.

A business built on integrity and reputation has longevity that other business systems cannot match. What’s more, an ethical corporate structure enables its employees and customers to flourish. On the other hand, studies have found that corporations without an ethical business structure in place breed unethical behavior in some of their employees, while others will leave. Considering businesses provide the goods and services for society, the closer their structure looks to the way we want our society to look, the more in tune their practices will be with changes in the market. 

Read more


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