The Work You Do
Your Job as Part of the Bigger Picture
In light of Labor Day just past, let’s take a look at what we do and what it means.
Each day, we pick up our work and go forward. Sometimes we can tell we’re moving ahead, sometimes we are in maintenance mode or a creative phase where we can’t tell exactly what results we are getting. We have our to-do lists in our minds or our organizers, but that is not what keeps us going.
Whatever your work and career goals are, they are for purposes beyond the immediate tangible outcome. Today, what you do makes a difference. And that difference adds up to what we are all doing together, keeping our society going, making things work, helping people.
We don’t often think about the part we play in the bigger picture. What happens as a result of your being there? Add that up, with all the other people who are doing jobs in your workplace, in your building, in your town or community, and there’s a tapestry of activity, the web that keeps us cared for in so many ways.
Our lives are complex. Everything we do depends on the effective action of others. Sometimes it’s easier to see all the breakdowns, the sore spots, the traffic, the endless hold, the things that aren’t working well. Sometimes it seems as though that’s all we’re working on – fixing breakdowns, just to keep up.
There’s a dark side, or many, and it’s important to look into those, such as the role that information is now playing in running our lives. Part of our work in the bigger picture is to be vigilant and informed, and to engage in dialogue about social responsibility with these kinds of interconnections.
While it’s easy to focus on being angry, scared, or sad about what we learn through the news, we can also look at the amazing skill, talent, and dedication of all these folks who show up and take care of things. We earn our living from some of our work, and in turn we spend our income so that other people receive and earn their living. The work we do, the thoughtfulness we bring to the immediate and more global issues of our day, the cooperation we offer to other people, these are priceless contributions.
Besides the tendency to notice the problems and what isn’t working, we also have a tendency to think of ourselves as individuals, not in our connection to everything and everyone. Sometimes I have the sense of rolling the ball up the hill, and having it roll back down again, not seeing progress, and feeling responsible for everything by myself. I have to work hard to catch up, and in that narrow vision, forget to talk to people or ask for help. Just having a conversation with someone who is struggling with something – or rejoicing about something – on their own path, reopens the flow of connection and helps me find the energy to do what my goals are requiring.
As long as we have goals, we are putting our oar in, some of us more visibly than others. Even when we are trying to figure out what our goals are, we are doing our part of what humanity is doing right now.
So as abstract as the big picture may sometimes seem, or as small as our contribution may seem, our work and our presence keep the social fabric together and help everyone live richer lives. Take a moment to appreciate the way your work connects to the well-being of the world.