April 22

The secret of joy in work
is contained in one word--
excellence.  To know how to
do something well is to enjoy it.

Pearl S. Buck


Today's Meditation:

At the risk of sounding negative, I witness very often why people don't much like the jobs they have.  They don't like their jobs because they don't give their all to them, and because they don't do that, they never reach the level of excellence that brings great amounts of satisfaction and fulfillment and, yes, joy.  They simply get by in their jobs, often doing the bare minimum and complaining about how unfulfilling the work is.

I've had jobs that I've disliked, and I know that there have been jobs that I've disliked because I never really gave the work a chance.  I've had other jobs that really should have been worse, but they've consisted of work that interested me, which meant that I focused strongly on the work and gave it my all.  When I've done that, I've enjoyed the work much, much more and the work that I've done has been of a very high quality.

I constantly witness in school that kids who don't put forth effort tend to be the most bored--and it doesn't work the other way around.  The common excuse--that they don't give effort because they're bored--is usually not completely true.  The fact is that most of the kids who don't do their work are causing the lack of excellence themselves, and are finding the subjects boring because of their lack of effort.  The cause-and-effect relationship of the two states is completely turned around from reality.

A man named Jack Daniels is an accomplished expert in running, especially in running for speed.  He says that something that surprises him is that in a race, when runners start to feel tired, almost none of them actually think about speeding up as a way to work their way through the fatigue.  In his experience, speeding up offers the legs a new pace and a new stride that can help a runner do his or her best in a given race.  When we get tired of our work, we rarely think of pushing harder in order to make the work more interesting.

When I do something very, very well, I get a lot of satisfaction from it.  I get a feeling of fulfillment, and yes, even joy.  I enjoy going to work, and I enjoy doing the work.  And all of the enjoyment is due not to what the work is, but to what I give to it.  It's a dynamic that's important to remember, and one that sets you apart from others--someone who enjoys the job and does it very well is a very valuable person, in very many ways.

Questions to consider:

How might we start to give all we can to our work, even if we sometimes find it tedious or annoying?

Why is it so easy to start focusing on other things at work if we're somehow bored with the work we're doing, instead of putting ourselves into the work more?

What are some of the benefits of giving our all to our work and starting to enjoy the work and the results?

For further thought:

There are four stenographers in my office and each of us is assigned to take letters from several men.  Once in a while we get jammed up in these assignments.  One day, when an assistant department head insisted that I do a long letter over, I started to rebel.  I tried to point out to him that the letter could be corrected without being retyped--and he retorted that if I didn't do it over, he would find someone else who would!  I was absolutely fuming!  But as I started to retype this letter, it suddenly occurred to me that there were a lot of other people who would jump at the chance to do the work I was doing.  Also, that I was being paid a salary to do just that work.  I began to feel better.  I suddenly made up my mind to do my work as if I actually enjoyed it--even though I despised it.  Then I made this important discovery:  If I do my work as if I really enjoy it, then I do enjoy it to some extent.  I also found I can work faster when I enjoy my work.  So there is seldom any need now for me to work overtime.  This new attitude of mine gained me the reputation of being a good worker.  And when one of the department superintendents needed a private secretary, he asked for me for the job--because, he said, I was willing to do the extra work without being sulky!  This matter of the power of a changed mental attitude has been a tremendously important discovery to me.  It has worked wonders!

Vallie G. Golden


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