Great Jobs

Consider the following:

When we talk about our relationship with work, we often focus on our own satisfaction, work/life balance or lack of meaning in our jobs. In other words we talk about our unhealthy relationship with our own work.
But perhaps what is more damaging AND what’s behind those numbers is our relationship with other people’s work.

If we respected the work of others, we wouldn’t ask them to work on a day that celebrates their labor.
If we respected the work of others, we would help them find meaning by showing how much their work means to us.
Instead, we have a country where management and labor are often estranged – looking to deny things (like good benefits and a fair wage) that we expect for ourselves.
Instead of appreciating labor, we either look down upon it (“imagine doing that for a living”) or question someone else’s skills and judgement (especially in service work and teaching).
Martin Luther King’s street sweeper speech is a clarion call to finding meaning in our work.  It’s a beautiful sentiment. Now imagine how much harder it is when you are struggling to support your family and others look down upon your work –  both with their condescending glances and with their inconsiderate actions (like littering).
Think over the course of the last week, how many times did you complain about the job someone else had done versus praising someone for the same?
Many years ago, I read the book Breakfast at the Victory. In one story, the author is having breakfast at a diner and marvels at the artistry of the short order cook. How he is able to gracefully handle so many competing tasks without missing a beat or breaking a yolk. It is an wonderful essay of utmost respect and appreciation.
Perhaps a key to having a great job is seeing the great in the jobs all around us.   

There is an undeniable circular nature of work. Our work impacts the lives of others just as the work of others impacts us. It is as the saying goes, “what goes around comes around.”  What are you sending around that circle?  If you’re not sending respect and appreciation, you probably shouldn’t expect to receive it.

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