Why does everyone sing in the Happy Friday chorus but only a few solo voices sing the praises of Happy Monday?
The answer is a question.
Simon Sinek says “Start With Why” and I believe him.
Sakichi Toyoda developed the technique of the “5 Whys” to get to the irreducible truth, and I believed him too.
And I believe that your answer to the question “Why?” is how we make Monday mornings as joyful as Friday afternoons.
So I ask you: Why do you go to work?
To pay bills?
Understandable, but not a good answer. It seems too wasteful, and inefficient and hapless to trade time (the only non renewable resource) for mere money. If this is why we do it, then it’s no wonder that Mondays are seen as such an imposition and a heavy burden to bear.
The parable of the bricklayers
There is another way to look at our work, as suggested by this parable cited by Angela Duckworth in Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance:
Imagine that you encounter three people ostensibly “laying bricks.”
You approach the first person and ask, “Excuse me, what are you doing?”
“I’m laying bricks,” the person answers.
Then you approach the second person and ask the same question.
“I’m building a church,” she responds.
Finally, you approach the third person, who responds:
“I am building the House of God.”
Same job but dramatically different job descriptions.
They have radically contrasting answers to the question “Why?” and maybe that’s because they choose to focus on totally different things.
Mind your focus
Psychologists suggest that one way to increase your sense of well-being, at work and in life, is to mind what you focus on. At work, they counsel us to temper our “self-centered” nature with an enthusiastic regard for “other-centeredness.” Yes, we all have bills to pay but that’s just a subplot, we can consciously choose to focus on a fuller version of the story.
We should stop to consider, for example, that every business, and every job within it (no matter how exalted or menial in nature) exists for a purpose and that purpose is to serve others. If you take this as a given, have you then stopped to consider all the ways that this is true?
For one thing, we are there to serve the needs of our organization and our co-workers and their families (our tribe). Then come the needs of the customers and their tribes, whom we also serve. Then comes the larger community of which our organizations are a part and so on and so forth. As we elevate to an altitude of 50,000 feet you can appreciate how everything and everyone is connected to everything and everyone else. We can start to see how our jobs have meaning beyond what we might at first survey.
Use your platform every day
In my life, I have held all kinds of jobs but I have never seen any of them as beneath me. I see that all work is in the service of others, and thus, every job no matter how “lowly” or “humble” is imbued with meaning and the highest form of nobility—for what higher calling is there in life than to serve our fellow human beings?
That’s actually all there is.
Thus, every job is a platform to serve others and if we can appreciate the many ways that this is true, then we will have a powerful Why that will put a song in our hearts on Monday mornings.
You don’t need a promotion or a glamorous new job or a fancy degree to get started.
You can start today.
- Use your platform to make someone smile;
- Be someone’s good listener;
- Take a deeper interest in the people around you;
- Help someone solve a problem or get what they need;
- Share information that could be useful;
- Surprise someone with a kind gesture;
- Be a light and a positive influence on everyone you encounter today.
The possibilities are endless and your job will be transformed.
We’re not laying bricks anymore—we’re building the House of God.