Purpose is Not Your Job, it’s Your Joy

Quite a few years ago, one of my brothers bought and moved into my other brother’s house. The family was all there participating in the “joy” of moving day. My youngest nephew, Jackson, was probably 4 or 5 at the time. As people trudged back and forth through the house, arms full of boxes, poor Jackson kept getting in the way. He was reminded, sometimes in raised voices, that he was an obstacle. Obviously feeling “in the way” made him sad and upset. So I had the bright idea of giving him the “job” of watching for when people came up to the house carrying boxes, and then opening the door for them. He loved it. He had a purpose. He was smiling and enjoying himself; partly, or perhaps mainly, because he was no longer getting yelled at! However, big brother Jacob came along and saw how much fun Jackson was having, and how much praise he was receiving, and decided to steal some for himself. He aggressively took over “door duty” from Jackson. You can guess what happened next. Jackson cried and wailed in agony. The adults were probably thinking, “Hey, it’s just a job, get over it kid.” But it was more than a job; it was a purpose. He was contributing. He was part of the team. He dedicated himself to the big family project of moving. When purpose is taken away at work, we all feel like Jackson on the inside. Sure, we may not cry and wail, but the sadness is there; the emptiness creeps in. We may not even be able to identify it, and we may even tell ourselves, it’s just a job what does it matter? But it does matter. Purpose matters. It is what makes us WANT to go to work and makes us want to STAY at work.  So make sure that you have a clear path to your purpose, that it is the center of your focus, your efforts. If it is not, take steps to make it so. Then guard and keep your purpose free of “work trash” that tries to get in the way. Work with your team to streamline and simplify processes so your purpose can be achieved. Purpose is not a job, it is your joy!