A wise person said to have a “calling in life, " is to be blessed.
If you intuitively know what you’re supposed to do for a living, and you set forth to do it, how much better can it get?
It’s certainly efficient to have an indelible sense of how you’re supposed to contribute. For instance, if you knew at an early age that you should become a construction engineer, you could create a blueprint for your life, selecting the right schools to attend, bonding with sympathetic and supportive friends, and so forth.
Having such a calling would certainly be an advantage, but I suspect, it is a gift few folks are given. And I trust it isn’t the sort of thing you can simply give to yourself.
By the gift of work, I mean something else. For one thing, it means being grateful that you have a job.
Official unemployment levels in recent years have plummeted, allowing more people than ever to join the labor pool, yet there are still folks who are disenfranchised. They simply can’t get, or hold onto, a job.
The handicapped, the sick, and the elderly, who might love the chance to work, come to mind. Forced-retirement, or involuntary leisure, I’m sure they can tell you, aren’t much fun. So, merely being accepted into the working world is certainly part of the gift.
Working is also a gift in the sense that when you work you create value in other people’s lives.
Whether this is your immediate, intended purpose, or not, isn’t essential.
We may tell ourselves we’re working merely for a check, and even bellyache about how hard it is to earn one, or how far it will stretch. But when all is said and done at the end of a shift, most of us are secretly proud of the fact that we accomplished something. To prove this, consider what happens when you’re precluded from contributing, because of power or personality struggles. Don’t you feel deeply frustrated and let-down?
The crossing guard at my child’s school appreciates the gift of work. An older gentleman, he shepherds hundreds of kids safely from one concrete shore to another, without incident. It’s a job that needs to be more than well done—it has to be done perfectly, day after day, month after month, year after year.
And he does it with a smile on his face, and with good cheer.
You can see it. You can feel it. It’s a gift from him to all of us who are around him.
What I detect he receives, in return, is the knowledge that he is contributing— he’s making a difference. He certainly brightens my day when we greet each other, and wave.
His rewards from working could never possibly fit into a tiny pay envelope, nor would those of most teachers or customer service people, for that matter.
Knowingly or not, work is their way of creating and disseminating value to others, and a way of seeing that they’re effective.
But it’s even more.
Like love, work is a medium through which we can lose ourselves and find ourselves at the same time.
We can become so involved with a project or a process that we lose track of time. We can be so committed to the success of the team that we put our burdensome egos aside, at least for a while. Through our work, we can find a respite from the overwhelming temptation to dwell only on ourselves, and our narrow preoccupations.
It’s tempting to foster a fantasy of finding the perfect job or occupation—one that promises to deliver us from the drudgery of the moment. And it certainly is awesome to perceive that certain individuals seem perfectly aligned with doing that for which their talents are best suited.
But it would be foolish to think that we can “chase a calling. " Occupational happiness doesn’t seem to function that way.
It’s probably a better idea to appreciate that any honest work is worthy and noble, and that we may be receiving, right now, one of the greatest gifts of all.
It’s the often overlooked gift of the work we have, and the ability to do it, and to do it well.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of Customersatisfaction.com , is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary’s programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org .