“An awful lot of people feel that they’re treading water and don’t matter… And that’s a despairing and destructive feeling. It’ll kill you.” ― Arthur Miller
How do you view the work that you do?
Whether your job is selling insurance policies, serving coffee or leading a large organization…
Raising tots at home, teaching kids at school or basking in the twilight years of life: The manner in which you view the work you do – and the life you lead – matters profoundly. Let me explain.
A Reminder about the Impact of Our Work
Frequently, after speaking at events for organizations, I have the pleasure of meeting individual employees. During the “meet-and-greet” I enjoy signing my books, but I love meeting people and hearing their stories.
After a handshake or hug, I often ask the individual to tell me about him or herself. The open-ended question permits them to take the conversation in any direction they choose.
Some respond with hobbies they enjoy, family they love, individuals who inspire them or dreams that motivate them. All too often, though, they begin by telling me what they do for the business with a word that cheapens everything that follows it: just.
I’m just in sales.
Just a janitor.
Just an admin.
Just an intern.
Just work at the front desk.
It’s not just at corporate presentations that I hear people diminish the extent to which their work and lives matter. I also hear:
I’m just a stay at home dad (or mom).
Just a sophomore.
Just a retiree.
The work we do, the tasks we perform, the relationships we cultivate, and lives we lead matter. Always.
I learned this truth 30 years ago by a doctor in the burn center where I was treated. Every morning, he made rounds to each of the patients’ rooms with his team. He then reminded each of them individually that they weren’t just doing a task, but shouldering the sacred role of keeping their patients alive.
One of the team members on these rounds was ‘just’ a janitor named Lavelle. Dr. Ayvazian would bring him into the room, invite him to come close to me and say, “You see this little boy? You are keeping him alive. This is the result of your good work.”
You see, with burn care the primary killer of patients is an infection. And the primary agent to mitigate the likelihood of infection is the janitor. In other words, the critically important role of saving the life of patients relies upon just the janitor.
My doctor, an inspired leader, not only reminded Lavelle of this truth but invested time to remind the entire team. He wanted each of them to understand the value of the job they did.
(I was reminded of the amazing work of Lavelle during a conversation with bestselling author Sally Hogshead, an expert at teaching individuals and organizations to use their strengths to fascinate others. Although Sally has worked with leaders at Nike, Ikea and Target, when I asked her about the most effective leader she’d ever met, she told me about her stay-at-home mom. Hear what she learned from her mom and how you can identify your strengths, too, here.)
Everything You Do Matters
So, how do you view the job that you do?
No, not what do you do, or how much are you paid, or how do others perceive that work. How do you view the impact of your job… and your life?
Turns out your answer to this question informs how you view yourself and your ability to impact those you serve.
My friend, know that you do make a difference. You. Do. Matter.
It’s an inspiring and uplifting feeling, and it’ll breathe life back into you.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
What are some ways that you, your family or your organization show (or could show) that the work you do matters? Share in the comments below!