March 24, 2021

A Lesson from the Fake Old West – McLintock

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The 1963 movie McLintock starring John Wayne is a Comedic Western with some of my favorite lines in an old western movie. One exchange always sticks out to me the most. 

Devlin has just walked up to McLintock (Wayne) to ask for a job. When a passerby starts chuckling at him for ‘begging’ for the work, he tries to punch John Wayne’s character, George Washington McLintock.

(Warning: these westerns are from a different time, about an even more different time, please watch through that lens!)

“I’ve never begged before, it turned my stomach. I suppose I should have been grateful you gave me the job.” – Dev 

“Gave? Boy you got it all wrong, I don’t give jobs I hire men.” – G.W.M. 

“You intend to give this man a full day’s work dontcha boy?” – Drago 

“You mean you’re still hiring me Mr. Mclintock? Well yes sir, I mean I’ll certainly deliver a full day’s work.” – Dev 

“For that I’ll pay you a fair day’s wage. You won’t give me anything and I won’t give you anything, we both hold up our heads.” – G.W.M. 

I love this exchange! It cuts right to the heart of what employment is – an equal economic exchange. It shouldn’t be a power struggle. The person with the money may appear to have all the cards, but they need workers too. The exchange should be equal in the employee’s and employer’s eyes.

The Attitude Police

Bad attitudes pervade on both sides of employment; employers wield the fear of losing a job like Thor’s hammer, and employees begrudge their jobs as if they have to be there. 

Employers

If you are an employer who doesn’t view your payment for work as equal, rethink your approach. You either need to pay more and find better workers or start treating your employees as if their work is equal to your resources exchanged for it. If it isn’t, why have employees in the first place?

You get to create a work environment where employees thrive or falter. You are on the same team as your employees. It is far cheaper to have happy employees than it is to find new labor. Your employees could work somewhere else, give them a reason to want to stay with you!

Employees

If your boss holds your job over your head or you begrudge the work, quit! Find a place to work that values the exchange equitably. If you are paid less than what your job is worth, ask for a raise or move on. Make yourself a valuable employee. I know that is easy for me to say, but your long-term success and happiness rely on it. 

Let’s rethink our view of being employed and employing as equal. No one is giving anyone charity!

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