Over the past several days I have chatted with a number of friends and neighbors all of whom have lamented the fact that the holiday season is now over and, reluctantly, they are headed back to work.
Listening to them whine, one easily gets the sense that having to go to work each day is seriously interfering with their lives.
Perhaps I am among the few of those who have been blessed because I can honestly say I love going to work.
So I find the attitude of these friends and neighbors to be somewhat disconcerting because our careers occupy an enormous portion of our lives and it seems to me to be rather sad that so many of us, day after day, get up reluctantly in the morning in order to go and work in endeavors that we do not enjoy.
I can only assume that the folks who daily subject themselves to this anguish do so only to meet their responsibilities, i.e. earning sufficient income to provide a satisfactory lifestyle.
Many years ago while working for a large company on a consulting project, I had the opportunity to interact with a large number of their employees and while observing them at work, I coined the phrase, “The Maximum/Minimum Rule.”
This is a rule that sadly all too many people follow as they kill time in their careers.
The Maximum/Minimum Rule states the maximum productivity performed by a follower of this rule is equal to the minimum level of productivity required to avoid drawing negative attention to themselves.
In other words, the most they will ever do is the least they have to do in order to stay under the radar.
So the obvious question is, why do so many of us not enjoy going to work, nor embrace with pride and passion the contributions we make to our organization?
I think the answer has a lot to do with self-actualization. Self-actualization is a willingness on our part to consistently seek to improve ourselves and pursue meaningful objectives that bring a sense of accomplishment and reward into our lives.
And it is never the job we do that makes this possible, it is the thought process or attitude that we bring to the job.
Yesterday I spent some time in the waiting room at one of our local hospitals. While there I watched a member of the cleaning staff going about her duties. I noticed her radiant smile as she interacted with folks around her and I was drawn to the extreme attention to detail that she brought to every aspect of her work.
After observing for a while I felt compelled to go and talk to her. I asked her how long she’d been doing this job and she told me she had worked at this hospital for 15 years as a cleaner. I asked her if she enjoyed the work and her reply astounded me.
She said, “I have the most important job in this entire building. My job is to keep this hospital clean and sanitary and if I don’t do my job properly then I place everyone in this building – staff and patients – at risk of infection. So really, whenever a patient goes home from this hospital healthier than when they arrived it is because of me and the important work that I do. Without us cleaners, the hospital would close. Of course I love my job. I save lives every day.”
Clearly this is not a follower of the Maximum/Minimum rule. This is a lady who has found tremendous meaning in the work she does and puts 100% of her energy, each day, into being the best she can possibly be. I can only assume that as she leaves the hospital at the end of each shift, she does so with a great feeling of accomplishment.
Now why can’t we all do the same?
The job we do is never dull, boring, unimportant, menial or just a necessary activity in order to pay the bills.
The job we do is simply the job we do. It is what it is.
If we view our job as dull, boring, unimportant, menial, or just a necessary activity in order to pay the bills then it is so because we have chosen to place that meaning on our work. We can just as easily replace the meaning with one that gives it great importance and fulfillment should we choose to do so.
To those folks who were lamenting going back to work I am always tempted to suggest how sad it is that they have chosen to put themselves in an environment where they don’t want to be.
By simply changing their perspective they can go back to that environment for 40 hours every week and find nothing but enjoyment, fulfillment and pride of accomplishment – even if they just do that to fill time while they find the “perfect” job elsewhere.
It is interesting how our lives are driven by the choices we make. As I mentioned above, the job is the job; we choose whether we love it, or don’t.
This is the beginning of a new year. My invitation to all is to choose fulfillment and enjoyment in everything you do. After all, it just makes for a happier life.
And what could possibly be wrong with that?
Till we read again.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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