How to Find Deeper Meaning, Purpose and Significance at Work and in the World
“For true work is love made visible.”
– Kahlil Gibran
For many Americans, the first Monday in September marks the end of summer, the start of school, and a glorious day off work.
Labor Day weekend is a much-anticipated day of rest and relaxation, often filled with weekend road trips, neighborhood barbecues and store sales galore.
Yet beyond the long history and time-honored traditions of Labor Day, the day actually has a deeper significance which, when understood, can add a new dimension to not just our celebrations, but also to our daily working lives.
Are you sawing wood or building a cathedral?
One of my favorite parables is one about an elderly man who came upon three men working on a construction site.
The elderly man asked the first working man what he was doing, and the man said he was sawing wood. He then asked the second working man the same question, and he said he was making cement.
When he asked the third working man what he was doing, he said he was building a cathedral.
I love this story because it’s a reminder that no matter what we do with the majority of our time and energy, and whether we get paid for it or not…
We all have the choice to see our work as a part of something much bigger than ourselves
Martin Luther King Jr. once said:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
While you may never see the full impact of the work you do, you CAN choose – every day – to bring your whole heart to the work that you ARE doing, no matter what you do for a living.
As you pour your heart into your daily tasks, know that the impact of your work extends far beyond your own understanding.
The key is not just to find your purpose – you must also learn to find purpose in your work
Having a sense that your work is part of a genuine contribution to others and to the world has very little to do with what your actual job or role is, and has almost everything to do with the way you perceive your everyday tasks.
When you choose to operate as if you are building a cathedral – and making a bigger impact – you’re more likely to use all of your skills and talents (even the ones you don’t know you have) to complete your tasks.
When you tap into all of your inner resources, you may find the hidden gems of life that come from using your natural talents… those gifts that you have that you were meant to use to make the world better in some way.
Soon, you’ll start to notice how everything you do on a daily basis has meaning and adds value to your life.
You’ll stop only looking forward to the future, and you’ll savor everything there is to experience and learn in the present moment.
Right now, I invite you to believe that you’re making a positive impact and contributing to something bigger…
And as you take time this Labor Day to relax with family and friends and soak in the last of summer, take a moment to recognize how your own work — however insignificant it may feel at times — truly contributes to the prosperity and well-being of this world, this country, your loved ones and yourself.
Not only will having this perspective make a bigger impact in your day-to-day life, this mindset will also help you create a world in which you love living.
And now, here’s a question for you in honor of Labor Day
What are some little ways in which you can give and make a bigger impact on the world?
Exploring this question will help to clarify some simple activities that you can do to contribute to a better, brighter world.
I invite you to share in the comments below 👇🏼
Whatever our experiences may be in life, by sharing them we can help others grow, and we can expand and evolve ourselves by hearing from others, too.
So go ahead and leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
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