In prehistoric times almost everyone did what we now consider the “dirty work.” But ever since the Sumerians developed an agricultural system (circa 5000 BC)—that created a stable supply of food allowing the population to grow, settle down and develop a division of labor that included skilled and unskilled work—most people have been angling to get out of doing the most menial, repetitive, mindless grunt work.
But is there any advantage to doing the thankless and lowly tasks?
“How can you achieve greatness if you haven’t experienced the hard lessons of life? To become a great theatrical director, a great actor or a Renaissance man, you have to do all the jobs most people don’t want to do, like washing dishes and shoveling horseshit. When I was young, I did everything by myself and would have sometimes 12 seconds to change from my dirty, rigging clothes to my performance outfit. ….You will never learn that googling ‘how to’ from a comfortable armchair.”
Dirty Work Debate: There is currently a debate over dirty work (aka unpaid internships). More here and a great infographic here. Is being one of the unpaid interns fetching coffee at Disney or lugging apparel for a fashion magazine a career-builder or exploitation as former intern Ross Perlin argues in his book Intern Nation?