06 Nov Take Pride in Your Work
This is Catherine, a very popular spin instructor at my gym. It’s the annual Trick or Treat ride, a 75 minute themed class as fun as it is hard. The decorations, lights, play list, even Catherine’s outfit, show the pride she takes in her work.
She sets up the class on her own time and at her own expense. She does the same for the Turkey Trot and Annual Reindeer Ride. No one assigns her this duty; she does it because she cares.
Contrast that with the waiter who served my husband and me on our 20th wedding anniversary. The basics were fine. The issue was dessert. This restaurant is special to us; this is where we had our first date, our first anniversary, and where I went into labor with our first child, who shares the same name as the restaurant.
Months ago, I ordered the top tier of our wedding cake from the original bakery as a surprise to my husband. I drove two hours to pick it up and drop it off at the restaurant the day before, complete with our names, reservation time, and “20th Wedding Anniversary” spelled out prominently on the box.
As our dinner was cleared, rather than present the cake on a nice plate with a quick, “happy anniversary,” the waiter said this…
“Um, you’ve got a cake in a box in the fridge… Are you taking that home in the box to eat?”
I looked at him perplexed, wondering if he was being dumb, thoughtless, or both. I thought to myself, “Who drops off a special occasion cake at a restaurant ahead of time just to take it home in the box never opened?!”
Okay, I was able to put it in perspective – it was one small hiccup in an otherwise wonderful day. It stands out the more because it was an almost perfect date, and it felt like the guy took very little pride in making it truly special for us.
Nearly 1/3 of our life is spent at work, that’s approximately 90,000 hours. Those hours should matter. My attorney once told me the word “work” literally translates in Latin to “made to suffer.” Yikes!
I was taught growing up that happiness is a choice. Each day, there is the opportunity to choose happiness and to bring your best self to a situation. The mental attitude you bring, and sense of pride you take in your work, contribute to its’ value and the satisfaction derived from it. Taking pride in your work will also, most likely, make it more enjoyable, and make you better at it. It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle, it’s an improvement cycle.
A very wise psychologist once told me he knew it was time to retire when he felt like dozing off in his sessions. He was completely bored, and in that state, it was not as conducive to healing for his clients. So, he traded his suitcase for a piano and now performs in a band.
Spin teacher Catherine decided to go part time at her corporate job after having children. This allowed her to stay in shape and focus on spreading her love of fitness to others. She might not earn as much money, but she’s happier and feels like she’s making a difference. Her classes are the best I take each week.
Maybe that waiter is tired of serving people for birthdays, engagements, first dates and anniversaries. Or maybe he just had a bad day. If it is a pattern, perhaps it’s time he traded his apron for a surfboard, or maybe a computer keyboard.
The moral of this story is that if you don’t have pride in your work, there may be an underlying conflict that needs to be addressed. Are you a quiet person stuck in a job where you must be outgoing? Are you an organized person working in a chaotic environment?
If you just have an occasional bad day or slump in your spirit, that’s normal. And if that’s the case, then chin up and head down, you have work to do.