In Dan Millman’s “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, there is a scene where Dan has been told to sit on an old car and only come back when be has something useful to say. After many failed attempts, he finally satisfies ‘Socrates’, his mentor, with: “There’s never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments!”
I remember once when I was about to run a taster workshop on Core Process, the HR manager who had commissioned it said to me: “They’re not all going to want to cherry-pick only the bits of their work they like, are they, and ignore all the boring bits?”
As I hastily explained then, loving your work isn’t really about dumping the boring bits. It’s more about finding the value – and the joy – in everything that needs to be done to provide the service that’s being paid for, and that you are uniquely able to provide. And when we are delivering something that we genuinely believe is of value to the world, it becomes much easier to find that Joy.
I’m sure you have heard the story of the three bricklayers: one is grumpily slapping mortar onto the bricks, then plonking them on top of each other. Asked what he is doing, his irritable reply is “Building a wall, what’s it look like?” And you hesitate to respond that it looks a bit like a wall, only sloppier. The second brickie is carefully laying the bricks, with a look of serious concentration, diligently tidying up the loose mortar that spills out as each brick is laid. When he is asked what he is doing, he smiles and replies “I’m a master craftsman, and I’m building the best wall I know how.”
And the final tradesman has a look of delight, almost serenity, as he quickly and carefully places each brick, checking its alignment with its neighbours and with the wall as a whole. When he is asked what he is up to, he gestures at all the other work going on around him, saying: “I’m part of creating a great building that will serve mankind for centuries to come!”
My point is that we can all choose how to think and feel about our work. And it’s a lot easier to feel good about it when we truly believe it is adding real value to others, and thus to the world. The only time that work needs to be tiresome, a chore to be completed as quickly as possible, and with as little investment of our self as possible, is when we cannot see how it makes a contribution to making the world a better place.
When you see the bigger picture, there are no boring bits.