What if your job was used as an example for what not to be when you grow up? Imagine that – your job served up as a warning for what you will end up if you don’t do well in school. This recently happened to a friend of mine. He didn’t hear this warning firsthand. The class that did was attended by his daughter. Now, imagine that.
It’s probable her teacher had best of intentions to motivate the students, and even my friend acknowledged that. He also said, good thing his daughter has thick skin, but even so, she felt compelled to apologize for the ignorance of others. As a parent, you would think about your child in that class at that moment, then you’d be taking measurement of your own skin depth.
People in – generally accepted as respectable- careers, might breathe a little sigh of relief at not having to deal with a situation like that. I don’t even have to mention his job because many will have already assessed whether or not they have one of ‘those’ jobs. Probably something menial, or in the service industry, right? I think on some level though, most would feel there is something not quite right about it all. Do unto others, etc.
It doesn’t matter what road we go down, ultimately whatever we work at is in service to someone else, and whether we are aware or not, we are also teaching. We will share our combined life experiences in some form or another, for better or worse.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about, after reflecting on my friend’s experience, is the idea of a simple shift in how we perceive and pursue success and the related esteems. Success definitions aside, there’s nothing wrong with shooting for the top or making top dollar, just that there could be more emphasis placed on important pursuits leading to that.
For performing our services, most want to earn respect, appreciation, and even admiration with our money. It’s hard to honestly earn good money without applying these qualities anyway. What if we started reaching for the stars from a place that sets aside aspects slavishly pursued in the 1980s like image, titles and the bottom line? What if we started our pursuit of work or career by thinking about those aspects that we care about as people regardless of role in our careers. Corporations spend billions on ways to humanize their images, to be relatable to people. What irony.
Could we make more of an effort to shift, and teach to shift, the perspective from what can we get out of life to what can we give? Could we consciously ask ourselves before we start our day, school, work or career directions by asking in what way(s) are we best suited to serve? What can I, what do I, give to the big picture? I wonder what kind of success levels as a society we would have then. It might sound lofty, but it really isn’t.
This isn’t simple idealism; it’s still about earning a buck and a decent living. The Real Housewives TV franchises will live, just wouldn’t it be nice if we could make them even less real than they already aren’t? We can still aspire to C.E.O lifestyles, but doing it with that simple shift in perspective changes the complexion of how we view status and value through titles and job types. It’s not what do we do, but how do we serve?
I think on some level we already know this as mostly true. No matter what title we achieve, what everyone really wants to know is how well, and what, were we able to contribute. We really care about the type of person we are, and who we’re working with. It’s how we want to be described when we die. If you need a touch of proof, watch an episode of Undercover Boss sometime.
Knowing even the little that I do about this, I’d still wager that the rewards for turning this table in society would be huge, including financially. It all begins with just a small change in thought. Imagine that.
At a minimum we could leave the examples of what not to be at drug dealers and crooks. And tofu hot dog makers. (Just kidding tofu people, some of my best friends are tofu hot dogs).
Oh, about that example of what not to be? To start, he is an outstanding parent. For pay he works with staff and children, in a host of ways, every day of the school year. After that, his resume’ includes being an amazing photographer, a writer of beautiful poetry and witticisms, and an extensive world traveler.
He must also be a pretty successful service provider because one day he received this note on his work cart. Seems like outstanding achievement to me.
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” Sir Winston Churchill