Monday, August 15, 2011


Rush Hour in the City, Philadelphia, PA

I’ve often heard folks offer the old wisdom to “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work one moment in your entire lifetime”. Well, bravo to anyone who is fortunate enough to know what that might be and then be able to support yourself and your family for the rest of your life pursuing that elusive dream. The Genesis story of Adam’s fall from grace left him with the admonition that mankind would be forever cursed to experience painful toil and earn a living by the sweat of your brow. Consequently, I find it hard to imagine anybody out there that doesn’t have a few days every now and then that are just pure hard work, regardless of their chosen profession—many more than others. Just as I believe we’d all be better off if we came to terms with the reality that life isn’t fair and every day will not reflect a television sitcom, I believe that we need to acknowledge the reality of work. Work is good for us but it’s not always fun. Since we have to be there to exchange time from our lives for money to continue living and paying taxes, it would seem to be a good idea to embrace whatever we are doing to help make the journey more enjoyable as we rush around interacting and meeting deadlines.

My experience has been somewhat more pragmatic. I’m not sure that it isn’t more realistic for many of us to try to find work that is at least interesting and then strive to nurture a passion for it. Even then, we may need to take on work that is plain old mind numbing until we score something better. I looked around and checked out what was making money in my time, set out to study whatever courses led down that path and then set out with a degree in hand to find a job that might help to fulfill that objective. But I tried not to stop there, since this profession was not the love of my life, whatever that might have been anyway. Every morning I did my best to awake with a positive attitude and tried to always look for the positives in the job experience. I strived to challenge myself to do the best that I could and then later tried to instill that work ethic in those who worked around me. Of course, I didn’t always succeed in doing that, but I got some mentoring advice early on to do just that and the money would take care of itself—and it generally worked out that way.

On those stretches where my work was the antithesis of enjoyment, I sought other activities outside the work place, like playing golf, to relieve stress and find fulfillment using the money I earned on the job to finance it. Could I have tried extremely hard to sort out a passion for the next fifty years of my life? Perhaps, but that would quite probably have been a very futile exercise. Once I jumped into the crucible of work, I was able to look around and see areas that did appeal to me. Actually, with the benefit of life in my rear view mirror, some of the perceived failures in my work life where I experienced setbacks are now revealed as positive forks in the road that led me to more fulfilling work. Life isn’t about how many times you get knocked down, but by how many times you get back up. Do I look back in regret? No, not when I know that I gave it my best shot and that I was able to keep the journey between the ditches, and more importantly, keep it interesting!

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