A Different Attitude Towards Work

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I recently read the story of a man who drew an amazing maze some 30 years ago.  It has everyone talking.  It is really complex and impossible to solve.

Everyone is astonished to find out this man is not some mathematician or scientist, “just” a janitor.

I am irritated by stories like this.

Why do we cling to absolutes that tell us that if someone is a “doctor” they have to be smarter than the rest of us?  Why do we believe that if someone is a “janitor” they must not be as intelligent?  Why do we value people according to the work they do?  Why do we value some jobs over others?  I said this just recently, but it bears repeating, “How pleasant would it be to work as a doctor if there were no janitors?”

Every job has a purpose and there is value in working period, regardless of what you do.  Think about the difference it would make if our children were raised with a different understanding about work.

1.  A strong work ethic is one of the most valuable tools you can have.

2.  It doesn’t matter what job you have so much as you have a job.

3.  There is self honor in doing an honest day’s work.

4.  All jobs have purpose and meaning, and doing your best at whatever job you are assigned, is the goal.

5.  Aspiring to a certain job is an individual choice that has to do with your interests and capabilities.  By all means do something you enjoy because you are going to be spending a lot of time doing it and no amount of money seems like a fair trade for what amounts to most of your life, if you are beyond stressed and hate what you are doing.  THAT will not only rob you of yourself, it will most likely take many other precious friends from you like your family and friends, your marriage and kids.  It won’t be worth it in the end.

6.  What you do does not define you.  It is not who you are.  A job does not make you a better person.  There are no shortcuts, who you are is about the way you think, the way you view life, and how you treat other people.  Any type of thinking that involves you believing yourself to be better that others is not you being a better person.  When you treat others poorly because they are “beneath you” is definitely NOT you being a better person.  Whether you are a janitor or a doctor WHAT you do is just your job, it does not mean you are a good person.

This is just one of the walls we have built.  Walls are always about the notion that a certain group of people need to be protected from other people and they are counterintuitive to our working together and learning to get along.

The man who did the maze does not want to be identified and praised for this work that has the world’s attention.  It was just something he did.  He created it for the sheer pleasure of engaging his mind in a project that he was interested in.  The pleasure was in the doing for him, NOT the 15 minutes of fame the world now wants to reward him with.

I wonder what other “wonders” might be out there if the world could be open to the notion that everyone has valuable contributions to make?  Then perhaps we would not be filling our news with how people view the homeless with contempt as if they were garbage or how laws are being passed to make sure gay people are not afforded basic respect because their very presence offends a particular state.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

And most importantly, we should stop asking why our world is in the state it is and pointing at other people as if THEY are the problem.  WE are the problem.  It is the sickness that seeps through our thinking, our practices, and our deep sense of entitlement in this world.  Only WE matter, and everyone else is competition or an irritant.

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