Sunday, January 4, 2015

The value of work

“If you are poor, work. … If you are happy, work. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If disappointments come, keep right on working. If sorrow overwhelms you, … work. … When faith falters and reason fails, just work. When dreams are shattered and hope seems dead, work. Work as if your life were in peril. It really is. No matter what ails you, work. Work faithfully. … Work is the greatest remedy available for both mental and physical afflictions.” (Korsaren, The Forbes Scrapbook of Thoughts on the Business of Life, New York: Forbes Inc., 1968, p. 427.)

What comes to mind when you think or hear the word “work?”

I am not necessarily talking about one’s job, as I hope people end up working in a field they love and have a passion for.  Sadly, some people will and do say “work sucks,” and “I wish I didn’t have to work.” Not to be confused with one’s “job,” I’m referring to the process and value of work. While not working on a rare occasion may be more about self-preservation or an earned break, work itself brings great value.  Think for a moment: What would life be like without work? 

Work is the primary means of both a growth mindset and self-actualization.  Work is honorable. Developing the capacity to work helps the individual contribute to the world in which we live. It brings an increased sense of self-worth by realizing one can make a worthwhile contribution that is for the greater good, extending beyond themselves to their families and communities.

Aligned to the adage of not being worth it if it’s easy, I don’t know that anything is supposed to be completely stress-free. Setting high goals for myself, and being willing to labor to achieve them is the foundation of my growth plan. A few characteristics are needed and strengthened, such as develop self-discipline, and being accountable. Continuous improvement is not related to employment alone, but also other worthwhile pursuits that make me well-rounded and balanced. Recognizing that we each have gifts and talents yet undiscovered, and that through work, hidden skills are usually spotted and developed by collaborating with others, is how we all become capable of achievement and success.

Charles Kinsley stated “Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.”

An idea that comes from the previous quote is that work is the prelude to cheerfulness and being content.  There is little to compare to the feeling of satisfaction when a job is done, and done well.  A completed work, project or task is rewarded by physical, mental and emotional gratification.

I love what J. Richard Clarke stated: “We have a moral obligation to exercise our personal capabilities of mind, muscle, and spirit in a way that will return to [ourselves], our families, and our society the fruits of our best efforts. To do less is to live our lives unfulfilled. It is to deny ourselves and those dependent upon us opportunity and advantage. We work to earn a living, it is true; but as we toil, let us also remember that we are building a life. Our work determines what that life will be.” Clarke continues, “Work is honorable. It is good therapy for most problems. It is the antidote for worry. It is the equalizer for deficiency of native endowment. Work makes it possible for the average to approach genius. What we may lack in aptitude, we can make up for in performance.” (April 1982.)

May we ourselves capitalize upon the lessons of work, and instill our future generations with the value of work.