Most of us work because we need the money. We have families and obligations and plans and hopes for a better life. But when work is just about money it can suck the life out of you because you start to feel like a widget in a big grinding machine. This is what we've inherited from the Industrial Age.
Trouble is we are no longer in the Industrial Age. We are now living in a Service Economy and the structure and methodology of that past is no longer adequate. What we've lost as a result is the importance of work that has intrinsic value and meaning.
So who's job is it to give us jobs that have meaning? Jobs we can feel proud of where we have the opportunity to make the world better place?
Well, if you're waiting for Corporate America to do it then your going to be waiting a long time . . . like forever! Truth is they can't and never could do this. Sure they can run job pride up the flag pole, hand out t-shirts, and have rah-rah sessions until you think you're going to throw up, but it's not going to happen. It's not going to happen because it's not coming from the place it really needs to come from . . . the actual worker bees. You and me.
I was in a Staff Meeting once and the Operations Manager asked us who the most important person in the company was. People looked around like it was a trick question. I raised my hand, "Erma", I said. Erma was the older lady who cleaned the bathrooms and lunch area. The Manager looked at me and said, "Your absolutely right. If it wasn't for Erma you wouldn't want to work here." She wasn't the brightest person. She wasn't the prettiest person. She did her job to the best of her ability and never complained, because she knew. She knew everything she did made our work lives better.
So the truth is it's not so much what you do, but how you do it. It's something that comes from inside of you. There isn't a company in the world that can make that happen if you don't have it in you all ready. Not Google, not Apple, not Microsoft or any other company.
There isn't a position out there with any company where you can't find meaning and purpose in your work - whether it's solving an internal problem, helping a customer, or simply being kind to a co-worker. You're the only one who can discover the intrinsic value in what you do. Oh, sure, you're representing a company, but more than that you're representing YOU. Who you are. The quality of your character.
You might even end up being the brightest light in another persons life today. Like that cranky old lady who just called because she doesn't understand her bill? She may never hear from her children and be sadder than you know. She might just need a kind and understanding voice on the other end of the phone right now. And you know what? I can't think of a higher purpose than that.