The 4 hour work week - review


Just a couple of days after my friend mentioned this book on Facebook it popped its head out at me at the library so I picked it up and gave it a go.

I was interested. Could a four hour work week be for me?

Ferriss's idea seems to be basically this: find a niche for a business that will run itself and start it up, outsource all your annoying jobs to someone on a phone in India and then head overseas, preferably to Argentina (or at least somewhere with a favourable exchange rate) to follow your dream of becoming a professional tango dancer or world champion sailor or some such thing.

Which is all very well, and I'm sure people who want to do that have a lot of fun and all, but it's not what I'd choose.

Personally I like to be part of a community. I don't want to swing in and out as the whim takes me. I crave stability and a sense of place. 

However, I suppose you don't have to travel to have a four hour work week. And I suppose I could start up a niche business that would just tick over and pay me easy money, but it sounds a little bit too simple. Every small business owner I've ever met spends hours and hours and hours making a living and then doing the paperwork.

Maybe I'm inflexible. Or dumb. I don't know. It sounds interesting, but I'm sceptical. Or maybe just scared.

But there's more. The bit that really didn't sit with me well was the outsourcing of all your boring jobs. Ferriss has several 'virtual assistants' who are basically Indian people in front of phones and the internet being paid who knows what, doing things around the clock for him. One example he cited was of a man who got his 'VA' to apologise to his wife for his part in an argument. Apparently she took it well. 

Let me tell you, my husband, if you are reading this. I wouldn't take it well.

I grew up as a white child with dark-skinned servants when I lived overseas as a child. Of course, they got paid. Of course, it was a job for them. But there's something about having someone (especially someone of another culture or race) doing the jobs you don't want to do or you think you're too good for that just seems to me to be a little bit racist, classist, superior or whatever. 

Logically, I can see the point of it. And I know already I outsource jobs like growing my own food and making my own clothes just because that's the economy in which I live. But it still just doesn't seem right.

I think we learn about ourselves and about life by doing the stuff that's dull or routine or everyday. And we can learn about suffering, patience, gratitude, humility and hidden joy when we do these things.

Look, I'd like to travel or take a holiday as much as the next person. Something fully catered, on a beach and with childminding for half the day would be fantastic. But then I'd like to come back to my life, in a place, doing my jobs and earning my money. Does that make me part of the unenlightened wage slaves? I don't know. But right now I won't be going out to take part in the Ferriss revolution.