What is a rule of thumb that motivates you through your everyday tasks?
Years ago, I heard a story that originated in a conversation by English architect Sir Christopher Wren (1623-1732) during the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire. In this story, Sir Wren came upon three men who were working. He asked the first man “What are you doing?” and the man replied “I am laying bricks”. He posed the same question to the second man who replied “I am building a wall” when he asked the same question to the third man he replied “I am building a cathedral.” While the three men performed the exact same task, their responses demonstrated how each saw that task through a different lens.
On a daily basis, we all do various tasks at work. We look up information, we do data entry, we reply to colleagues, we learn new skills, we write profiles, we create lists, we make recommendations, and we discuss strategies. We all make our own choice as to how we view our efforts. While I often think I am simply “laying bricks” I know that my ultimate goal is to “build a temple”.
When I go into the office, turn on my computer and check my email, I am not there to perform a task, pull a list, write a profile, or strategize with colleagues. I am there so a deserving young person has the means to attend the university, has the tools and resources necessary for their courses, and has access to quality professors. My work is important because these young people will go on to become our accountants, police officers, nurses, social workers, bankers, doctors, entrepreneurs, innovators, entertainers, teachers, veterinarians, librarians, mayors, nonprofit professionals, and perhaps even prospect researchers. In order for them to be the very best at their future profession, I need to make sure that I do my job well. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I get up in the morning and do my job because the future depends on it.
I think of it like the hologram message from Princess Leia saying “Help me Obi Wan, you’re my only hope” – I wake up in the morning and choose to be the Obi Wan to my organization’s Leia …. Every. Single. Day. Seriously, what better motivation is there than that?