One of the more challenging and cerebral days that I spent recently was at the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia ‘helping’ someone understand the process necessary to deal with his cancer. This is a 74 year old man….a tad bit pathetic….has three (3) grown daughters, a few ex-wives and a 79 year old brother….none of which (according to him) were available to help him through this difficult maze. I offered (I’m crazy, yes I know…but I truly believe in the circle of life…when one helps another person, it will come back to them at another point in their lives) to help see him through the initial steps. This is his second bout of cancer in the same location but it turns out, it wasn’t a metastasized cancer, it was a ‘new’ cancer…..yes, I digress….
This 74 year old was seen by four (4) different physicians during the course of the 6 – 8 hours we were there….the training and the culture of this medical institution (I will do another BLOG soon on the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania) is some of the best…the medical staff is not only professional and knowledgeable and at the ‘top’ of their respective fields….they are all personable as well. Each physician asked my friend what he did for a living…in order to get to know the man….I was amazed but only once did he honestly tell what he did for a living….and that was after coaxing from me….
I don’t understand his reasoning nor his rationale….he had informed me that a one point in his life he was a newspaper reporter for a major metropolitan daily….he left there for a period and worked as a researcher for a personal publisher of some sort (whom he eventually sued for unexplained reasons)….he returned to the newspaper reporting business and eventually needed more money to care for his (then) wife and daughters so he accepted a position in the mid-west working for a collecting magazine….from there he, according to his story, went on to become an Administrative Manager for a major collecting organization in central Pennsylvania. He was subsequently terminated from that position and as a result of a federal program offered through the Commonwealth, he started a business approximately 10 years ago, buying and selling stamps and other collectibles. He is highly respected in the ‘stamp collecting’ arena and he learned that his personality was conducive to being a rather successful business owner.
In answering the Doctor’s question of what he did for a living, I think he was much more comfortable telling them that he was a newspaper reporter (a rather ‘glamourous’ job of sorts)…at one point, he said that he was ‘semi-retired’ … again, only once did he actually describe what he does for a living. At 74, he still does something each day that he is ‘passionate’ about..
There are many reasons that people love their jobs….every time I speak to my daughter and we get on the subject of work, she tells me how much she loves being an attorney in the Navy….my daughter loves discipline and she truly believes that one should not ever lie and one should always do what is right….as she states….it is easier and cleaner. Another very dear friend of mine is an attorney….at this stage of his life, he would have preferred to spend his professional career doing anything other than the ‘law’….once I introduced him to my brother-in-law’s mother….when she asked him what he did for a living and he said he was a ‘lawyer’….her reply was ‘I don’t like lawyers’….his response was ’I know what you mean; I don’t often like them myself’…..
There is a book that I read entitled The Elegance of the Hedgehog….the main character was a concierge in an apartment building in Paris….she was unlike most individuals that one would think of as a concierge. She read all the classics, listened to all varieties of established music and followed a cultivated routine on a regular basis while attending to the needs of the residents of the apartment building. Her appearance was unattractive but her manners were refined and sophisticated. She had no formal education, hence, the reason that she chose to be a concierge. It seems she kept her ‘civilized’ tendencies to herself. She was very ‘proud’ to be a concierge as long as she had the time to herself to cultivate her passion….
Most people that love their jobs wake up to a challenge….they don’t feel that ‘dread of the day’ while they are brushing their teeth. They never lose sight of the challenge that got them there in the first place. They usually are individuals that can accept the positives and the negatives and sort of ‘ride the wave’….life is a balance….they also are very much attuned to their ‘inner selves’….they almost always know what makes them happy….what they did as a child that they enjoyed….they are most likely doing something else with their life but they are doing it with the vim and vigor that they approached things as a younger person….and another important thing is that people who love their jobs really don’t care what you or me think…even if they were thwarted at some point in their lives but advice that put them in another direction, most of us who love our work will have centered again….Another thing about people who love their jobs….they are so very passionate, they will talk about what they do and entice someone to ‘join’ them without any realization that they are doing this….
I know my friend ‘loves’ his job….when we have been with a few of his colleagues, they comment as to how he loves his job more than anyone or anything….so why did he have a hard time telling other professionals what he did for a living? Is he unique? Possibly….I’ve not experienced this much in my life or profession. Could it have been due to nerves and the situation? Could it have been a form of alzheimer’s where he had a momentary lapse in memory? I don’t know and he could not explain it to me but I think it is because he is ‘embarrassed’ as to what he does for a living….even though he does it extremely well…
Often, the first thing we ask an individual when we meet them is what they do for a living. That question may be an easy way to find something to talk about, but it also implies that what someone does for work is the most importance aspect of who that person is. Also, work is perhaps the only aspect of life that is quantified on the same scale for everyone: wages in the form of money. It is tempting to compare one’s worth in society to how much one is paid for the work one contributes. It does not take much reflection to realize that the correlation between pay and how important each person’s work is for the functioning of society is extremely low. If some of the lowest paid workers suddenly disappeared and were not replaced, society would grind to a halt.
It is often important NOT to equate one’s worth or value with how much you earn. Instead, one should remind themselves that everyone needs an income to provide for basic needs and earning the income entails some degree of dignity as a result of being self-supporting. Also, any job done well and with an appreciation for its purpose can be meaningful. The simplest of ‘lowest’ of paid jobs represents many opportunities to make a difference in other people’s lives.
We should all take pride in the degree in which we do our work well….no matter where we ‘think’ we fit on the social strata….look at the difference we make for others, even if it is only one small instance. When other people ask what you do for a living, the tone and manner that you respond might go a long way in determining how they view you….and if someone implies that your job is not glamorous, dignified or even important….then, we all know how to respond to that….
Every cog in the wheel is important …no matter what or where it is. We may not be doing what we want to be doing for a living but as I’m use to saying….do your best in all you do and if you don’t like what you do for a ‘living’….go out and look for something else or accept your ‘work’ and spend the rest of the hours in the day doing something that you ‘love’….and be proud of who you are….
If you are interested in discussing motivational topics for yourself or your employees, please contact Rosanne Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 484-718-3427.