Series Meaningfulness at Work: Being engaged

There are many things in the work environment that are outside of our control. But if we want to be happier and more fulfilled at work, we have the power to change our attitude and be completely engaged in whatever it is that we are doing.

While walking down the street, a man saw three bricklayers at work. He walked up to the first bricklayer and asked, “What are you doing?” The first bricklayer replied, “I am laying bricks.” The man walked up to the second bricklayer and asked, “What are you doing?” The second bricklayer replied, “I am building a wall.” The man walked up to the third bricklayer and asked, “What are you doing?” The third bricklayer replied, “I am helping to build to most beautiful museum the world has ever seen, and people will come for miles just to gaze upon its beauty.”

In your opinion, which of those bricklayers probably had the greatest satisfaction with his work? Which of those bricklayers would you want as your co-worker or your employee? Which of those bricklayers would you want to be? All three bricklayers were doing the exact same thing, working on the exact same project. The only difference was their attitude.

Research on employee engagement tells us that only about 29% of employees are actively engaged, with a positive attitude and strong commitment toward their job. So if 50 salespeople are on the same team, we can estimate that only 15 team members are actively doing the best job they can. Another 8 people are miserable and quietly grumbling to anyone who will listen. And the remaining 27 people – more than half the team – are simply there to collect their paychecks and go home for the day.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote,”If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as 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.”

Whatever your job might be, may you find satisfaction in doing it well!