No job is filled with creativity and fulfillment 100% of the time. And yet we’re all born with passions that should be fully explored in the search for fulfilling careers. They’re out there; are you rushing to find them? Do you squeeze the most juice from each day? Maybe you love the outdoors; choose one of countless jobs that has you experiencing sunlight over fluorescent lights, breathing natural air rather than that from filtered air conditioning. Maybe you love food; choose one of equally countless jobs that has you preparing, cooking, creating, serving, owning. Do you get the idea? Choose!
…the hundreds of thousands of people—men and women with lives, loves and labors—who are responsible for that cardboard carton carrying everything from beer and books to papers and paraphernalia.
The factory workers, the salespeople, the layers of middle and upper management, the stockholders who provide capital for payroll and expansion, the drivers who long-haul these yet-to-be-filled and already-filled boxes, the cities and states that depend upon the accompanying toll revenues, the highway workers who in turn pave and upkeep those very well-traveled roads, the bricks-and-mortar and online workers who stock, pack and send the boxes, the lawyers and doctors who stack them rafter-high, the paper recyclers alert to these soon-to-be discarded cartons…. All of them spend their earned income on themselves, and their families and friends, which in turn creates sustenance for so many more.
Your job isn’t going quite the way you’d like. Perhaps it’s a recalcitrant employee, or if you’re on the other side of the door, an obstinate boss. Making even slight changes will go a long way toward showing your flexibility and understanding. Most people naturally and rightly respond to sincere effort. Stay an extra 10 or 15 minutes at the office a few days a week, or come in a bit earlier. Take all of five seconds to offer a good word or acknowledgement of a task well done.
Making mistakes can be a source of true peace.
For those determined to move ahead tangibly—both personally and professionally—and not just to aspire, the follow-up question, “What can be gleaned from this?” is key. None of us can know at all times where to step and where to avoid, what to do and what to avoid, how to embrace and how to avoid; such a valuable avoidance instinct can only be built up over time, over problems solved, over situations lived through.
As long as we recognize that being perfect is not only unrealistic but impossible, and that freely admitting inevitable mistakes is a sign of strength and self-awareness rather than weakness, we open ourselves to lasting progress and development. The instinct to cover up mistakes or to spin them in a more favorable light is surely natural; who, after all, wants to walk around with errors hanging from the emotional rafters, with slips stuck to public message boards?
How many times are you confronted with meaningful opportunity — in a day, a week, a month? Are you receptive to the signs, willing to pursue them, eager to take your best shot? Doing so may take you out of your comfort zone, may involve some risk, may expose you to criticism and/or failure, may initially sting.
But weigh the consequences of inaction, and you may well be confronted by mediocre work, by unsatisfying relationships, by an unforgiving calendar, by less money, by… by… by.
January 2017 has nearly run its course; a twelfth of the new year is already history. What of the resolutions to inaugurate new habits and new pursuits, to look ahead as a high-school student looks toward college, as a college student looks toward a job or graduate school? Those in their teens and 20s are more often than not filled with the idealistic perspective of the need for education, of making a lasting impact, of personal growth.
With the calendar’s relentless progression when the 30s and 40s can seem to pass so quickly, with increasing job and family responsibilities, with the constant need to try finding time for exercise and sleep, who has time to inaugurate a skill like learning a new language? (The phrase ‘foreign language’ is increasingly fading as the world’s borders become ever closer, despite current walls and divisions.) Who has time to inaugurate an exercise routine when just getting out of the house in the morning and back in at night can seem to elevate the heart rate too much?
Your job promotion depends entirely on addressing daily pressures while completing extraordinary work by Friday for a project impacting the entire company.
Your spouse’s crucial work commitments cause all the week’s family responsibilities to fall on your shoulders alone.
You’ve lost your job and have accepted two or three jobs either within or outside your field rather than lose your house to foreclosure.
Your child’s or parent’s illness means that you’re burning candles on both ends of the day, as inattention or cutting corners is not within your repertoire.
Each of us is born with distinct gifts, to be developed and expanded through discipline and desire, or to be left to fade through apathy and anxiety. They
encompass the kaleidoscopic range of human experiences, from construction worker to concert violinist, from doorman to doctor, from gardener to golfer, from proctor to president. Yet why must society make delineations, create class categories, foster exclusivity?
A concert violinist must go through decades of disciplined practice on top of requiring the inborn gifts, yet is the construction worker—who labors through years of apprenticeship and stultifying weather conditions while helping to create the concert hall—a less valuable person?
A doctor must go through endless years of highly specific training and staves off disease, yet is the doorman—who helps to guard the doctor’s co-op against crime and murder, and keeps order—a less valuable person?
A professional golfer must devote immeasurable time to drives and putts while offering entertainment and ready aspiration, yet is the gardener—who maintains the course and cultivates beauty and oxygen with perpetual toil—a less valuable person?
A president, whether of company or country, must cultivate expansive education, political skills and charisma to guide and inspire groups of people with much at stake, yet is the proctor—who oversaw the president’s bar exam and ensures integrity and discipline within life-changing circumstances—a less valuable person?
The 8:30 a.m. conference at your downtown office will emphatically not wait for being held up in rush-hour traffic, for getting the kids ready for school in time for the bus, for finishing your preparation for the pending presentation, for putting gas in the car, for stopping at the ATM, for… for… for. If only you could have something to hold you up amidst the stress and lack of sleep that seem to purposely invade each week. Add waiting in line at Starbucks for that shot of espresso that briefly jolts the brain and body.
Why do we put ourselves in such a position? Must we stay up so late answering that enveloping stream of emails, watching and/or reading the end-of-day news, overextending to spouse and children? Well sure, this is contemporary life, when wanting it all comes with an inflationary price that only the weak decline to pay. Let the morning mugs of Colombian coffee be drained, let them be damned, but let them work!