In his book about overcoming cancer, the famous Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong says, “It’s not about the bike.” His satisfactions have come from working to overcome cancer, training in the grueling hills of central Texas , staying in top form when all the physical signals were against him. None of these is about the bike, or the Tour de France.
When it comes to careers, I say, “It’s not about the job.” Of course we have to be practical. We have to earn a living. We choose a position that will pay the bills, feed our family and put a roof over our heads. The job nearly always fails to satisfy. Your satisfaction and your daily triumphs are not about the job. They are about your work .
Look over this list of work satisfactions:
- Planning and visioning for the future
- Creating a new, innovative solution
- Exercising your will to make something happen
- Causing resources to come together to support an activity
- Mastering an activity
- Helping someone else
- Listening empathically to someone who is upset
- Helping someone with a problem, personal or business
- Discovering a new bit of useful information
- Sharing a good laugh
- Making a new friend
- Meeting a new person who tickles you
- Completing a task well
- Meeting a deadline
- Performing a task well
- Selling the positive qualities of an idea, product or person
- Learning something new or causing others to learn
- Using some resource well or restoring something that is lost or broken
These activities are the real joy of working. The child who is learning to walk has the joy of causing new results in his world. If he can walk, he can get to the toy or the dog he wants to play with. He can show off to Mom and Dad and get praise. He can feel satisfaction of doing something that’s hard.
We all want that satisfaction of achievement. We revel in accomplishment. We love to master our world, our projects, our talents. We love being at cause in our world. So, work satisfaction is never about the job, it is always about the work. When looking at your job, think about the work you do. What are you causing? Whom are you interacting with? How is your human need of causing being satisfied?
I’m thankful for the work I do in the world. How about you?