April 25, 2022

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

Work is often portrayed as a difficult and arduous means to an end–something we have to do to pay the mortgage, pay for the kids clothing, and at a minimum, put food on the table. The lucky few that ascend to high levels of pay and perks are considered separate from the paradigm while the grand majority toil away. Of course, we don’t all think this, and day after day I meet people who find not just satisfaction, but pure joy from their work no matter the pay or status.

Work is a privilege. Working conditions, pay, benefits, and standards are at historical highs, especially in the United States. Work is certainly a means to an end, but that end is not simply pay and the security of medical benefits, but the purpose that comes with creating, making and delivering products and services to others. Great pride comes with being really good at your chosen work. That pride extends to others when they see that you take pride in your work. Have you witnessed a true master–your local barista, the police officer that knows everyone’s name in the neighborhood, the machinist that has become not just an operator, but a trainer of others? Whenever I see this, I wonder whether I am honoring my work enough or being an evangelist for my chosen profession. How can I do more?

There are forums, discussions, and books being written about the future of work. They are all interesting, but most miss this fundamental and enduring point: Work, and your mastery of it, is a privilege that we get to pursue each day.

This week, let’s pause to think how we are approaching our work and how we are honoring those that we encounter on a daily basis, especially those that bring joy and are masters of their given responsibilities. When you see something exceptional, please pause to recognize it, to thank them for the nuance that separates them from simply someone who is completing a task.

Let’s have a great week!

-Kenny McDonald