Your Career and You: “Keeping It Fresh”


Publication1Once in a while, I look around at people who I know…people who I work with…people who I don’t know but see regularly…and wonder how “excited” they are about what they’re doing for a living.

During the course of both my professional and academic careers, I’ve been either bemused by or amazed at the lack of enthusiasm…OR the tremendous enthusiasm…different people show for their chosen life’s work.

I remember so vividly a fellow I worked with for a summer job when I was a senior in high school. It was a factory in my hometown where woolen material was made, and this guy’s job was to run a machine that folded the cloth into containers that were then moved to other parts of the plant for further processing.

The final step in that job was, when the container was full, to cut the cloth, move the container away, and roll in another for filling.

When I asked, he told me he had been doing this same job for 29 years!

I (obviously) had a follow-on question: “Why?”

His response has stayed with me until today: “I have to be sure that the cloth is folded neatly so that, when it’s taken to the next stage, there won’t be any problems in the processing there.”

At first, I thought he was nuts. Then I thought some more.

I realized that he realized that this was not rocket science. This was a routine, by-the-numbers, non-challenging job.

So he made it a challenge by focusing on the quality of his product…the filled container.

Once in a while, at random times, the folding machine would get weird and would somehow twist the material…or there would be a giant wrinkle…or perhaps a grossly-noticeable imperfection.

He made it his mission to be on the alert for those glitches and to head them off at the pass.

I know this sounds to some like an “Oh, my God, just shoot me!” kind of job. And I’m pretty sure this fellow was fully aware of the general perception. So he decided early on to be proactive and to find a way to make it a challenge.

The lesson I took away that summer is that your job doesn’t have to be mindlessly routine.

What you have to do is find a way to make it interesting…to add a level of “excitement” to it. And when you accomplish that, you’ll find yourself becoming more engaged in it…looking forward to the next day’s challenges and opportunities.

Publication1Instead of coming in each day to the “same ol’, same ol’,” you’ll find yourself looking forward to going to work and accomplishing something of value. You’ll be “keeping it fresh”!

“Life that dares send
A challenge to his end,
And when it comes, say, Welcome, friend!”
Richard Crashaw, “Wishes to His Supposed Mistress” (l. 85)

4 Comments

  1. Riley Hale

    Wow, I really enjoyed the quote, “The lesson I took away that summer is that your job doesn’t have to be mindlessly routine.” But it’s so true. It’s up to YOURSELF to make something enjoyable. If you want to be successful in life, you need to make your happiness with every situation in your life something that you enjoy. Great read!

    • Thanks so much, Riley! You’re absolutely correct…it’s up to YOU to make it happen. Sounds like you’ve got it figured out! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. This is an absolutely amazing post! What you are talking about lines up exactly from what I have experienced in my life and what my father always taught me. I remember one summer my family and I went to a rodeo in Arizona. As we were driving in the massive “parking lot” there were parking assistants jumping around, making funny faces and directing us with huge arm movements all along the way. I thought that was awesome the way they made a seemingly mundane job fun for them and everyone around them.

    • Isn’t it wonderful, Carrie?!? I actually had a quick chat with a fellow at our local supermarket who was restocking the broccoli bin…now rocket science in anyone’s book! He was having the time of his life, though, talking with each and every person who came by about the broccoli…pointing out which shelf had the freshest, etc., etc. And people, myself included, were stopping to chat and then walking away smiling. He found a way to make broccoli fun!!!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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