Why do you work? Discover why you are living two lives

Why do you work? Is it simply to make money or does your job help your community and society? Here we ask what the purpose of your working is, giving you questions to ask yourself. Discover if you are living two lives.

You might be splitting your time between “working” and “providing service” to your community. But you might not be able to see how your day-to-day work provides a great service to the wider world.

Mary Parker Follett, often called “the prophet of management”, said “it used to be that a man made money for himself, a purely selfish conception, in the daytime”, and balanced it by providing service to the community outside of work. Or he might spend time at work focused on making money, and later spend some of that money in ways useful to the community.

She stated, “The more wholesome idea, which we have now, is that our work itself is to be our greatest service to the community”.

Follett was right that this is the more wholesome idea, but she was wrong about it being the way things are for most of us.

A modern parable

A man spoke to three workers at a construction site. The first worker was dirty, sweaty, and looked tired. The man asked the first worker, “What are you doing?” The worker replied “I’m nailing boards”.

The second worker was dirty, sweaty, and had an unhappy expression on his face. The man asked the second worker, “What are you doing?” The second worker replied, “I’m building a house”.

The third worker was also dirty and sweaty, but was smiling. He worked as hard as the other two, but work seemed to come easier for him. The man asked him what he was doing, and the worker replied, “I’m building a home for a family”.

As this parable points out, sometimes the value of your work is a matter of perspective. When you think about your work from the perspective of those who will use or benefit from your services, work itself becomes easier and more fulfilling.

Uncover the purpose of your work

These six questions can help you reveal what the real purpose of your work is. Ask yourself:

  1. What purpose do my activities serve?
  2. What is the value of my activities?
  3. How do my activities support a larger effort?
  4. What will be the end result of my work?
  5. Who will experience the result of my work?
  6. How will they be affected by what I accomplish?

Remember to be clear about “why” you are doing something, not just “what” you are doing.

Many thanks to Jesse Lyn Stoner’s blog for inspiration

Want to explore these ideas further? Then give us a call on 01865 881056 or email us at info@leaderslab.co.uk.