Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Right Attitude To The Work You Love: If you see a man's work, you see the Man!

It ought not to be necessary to ask a man if he likes his work. The radiance of his face should tell that. His very buoyancy and pride in his task; his spirit of unbounded enthusiasm and zest, ought to show it. He ought to be so in love with his work that he finds his greatest delight in it; and this inward joy should light up his whole being.

A test of the quality of the individual is the spirit in which he does his work. If he goes to it grudgingly, like a slave under the lash; if he feels the drudgery in it; if his enthusiasm and love for it do not lift it out of commonness and make it a delight instead of a bore, he will never make a very great place for himself in the world.

The man who feels his life-yoke galling him; who does not understand why the bread-and-butter question could not have been solved by one great creative act, instead of every man's being obliged to wrench everything he gets from nature through hard work; the man who does not see a beneficent design and a superb necessity in the principle that every one should earn his own living — has gotten a wrong view of life, and will never get the splendid results out of his vocation that were intended for him.

Multitudes of people do not half respect their work. They look upon it as a disagreeable necessity for providing bread and butter, clothing and shelter — as unavoidable drudgery, instead of as a great man builder, a great life university for the development of manhood and womanhood.
They do not see the divinity in the spur of necessity which compels man to develop the best thing in him; to unfold his possibilities by his struggle toattain his ambition, to conquer the enemies of his prosperity and his happiness.

They cannot see the curse in the unearned dollar, which takes the spur out of the motive. Work to them is sheer drudgery — an unmitigated evil. They cannot understand why the Creator did not put bread ready-made on trees. They do not see the stamina, the grit, the nobility, and the manhood in being forced to conquer what they get.

No one can make a real success of his life when he is all the time grumbling or apologizing for what he is doing. It is a confession of weakness.

What a pitiable sight to see one of God's noblemen, made to hold up his head and be a king, to be cheerful and happy and to radiate power, going about whining and complaining of his work, even deploring the fact that he should have to work at all! It is demoralizing to allow yourself to do a thing in a half-hearted, grudging manner.There is a great adaptive power in human nature.

The mind is wonderfully adjustive to different conditions; but you will not get the best results until your mind is settled, until you are resolved not only to like your work, but also to do it in the spirit of a master and not in that of a slave.

Resolve that, whatever you do, you will bring the whole man to it; that you will fling the whole weight of your being into it; that you will do it in the spirit of a conqueror, and so get the lesson and power out of it which come only to the conqueror.

Put the right spirit into your work. Treat your calling as divine — as a call from principle. If the thing itself be not important, the spirit in which you take hold of it makes all the difference in the world to you. It can make or mar the man. You cannot afford grumbling service or botched work in your life's record.

You cannot afford to form a habit of half-doing things, or of doing them in the spirit of a drudge, for this will drag its slimy trail through all your subsequent career, always humiliating you at the most unexpected times.

Let other people do the poor jobs, the botched work, if they will. Keep your standards up, your ideals high.

The attitude with which a man approaches his task has everything to do with the quality and efficiency of his work, and with its influence upon his character.

What a man does is a part of himself. It is the expression of what he stands for. Our life-work is an outpicturing of our ambition, our ideals, our real selves. If you see a man's work you see the man.

No one can respect himself, or have that sublime faith in himself, which is essential to all high achievement, when he puts mean, half-hearted, slipshod service into what he does. He cannot get his highest self-approval until he does his level best. No man can do his best, or call out the highest thing in him, while he regards his occupation as drudgery or a bore.

Under no circumstances allow yourself to do anything as a drudge. Nothing is more demoralizing.
No matter if circumstances force you to do something which is distasteful, compel yourself to find something interesting and instructive in it. Everything that is necessary to be done is full of interest. It is all a question of the attitude of mind in which we go to our task.

If your occupation is distasteful, every rebellious thought, every feeling of disgust, only surrounds you with a failure atmosphere which is sure to attract more failure. The magnet that brings success and happiness must be charged with a positive, optimistic, enthusiastic force.

The man who has not learned the secret of taking the drudgery out of his task by flinging his whole soul into it, has not learned the first principles of success or happiness. It is perfectly possible to so exalt the most ordinary business, by bringing to it the spirit of a master, as to make of it a dignified vocation.

The trouble with us is that we drop into a humdrum existence and do our work mechanically, with no heart, no vim, and no purpose. We do not learn the fine art of living for growth, for mind and soul expansion. We just exist.

It was not intended that any necessary employment should be merely commonplace. There is a great, deep meaning in it all — a glory in it. Our possibilities, our destiny are in it, and the good of the world.

Why is it that most people think that the glory of life does not belong to the ordinary vocations — that this belongs to the artist, to the musician, to the writer, or to some one of the more gentle and what they call "dignified" professions?

There is as much dignity and grandeur and glory in agriculture as in statesmanship or authorship.

Some people never see any beauty anywhere. They have no soul for the beautiful. Others see it everywhere. Farming to one man is a humdrum existence, an unbearable vocation, a monotonous routine; while another sees the glory and the dignity in it, and takes infinite pleasure in mixing brains with the soil and in working with the Creator to produce grander results.

I knew a cobbler in a little village who took infinitely more pride in his vocation than did the lawyer, or even the clergyman, of that town. I know a farmer who takes more pride in his crops than any other person in his community takes in his calling.

He walks over his farm as proudly as a monarch might travel through his kingdom. This true master-farmer will introduce his visitor to his horses and cows and other animals as though they were important personages.

That is the kind of enthusiasm that takes the drudgery out of the farm and makes a joy out of a life which to many is so dull and commonplace.

I have known a secretary on small pay who put a higher quality of effort into her work than the proprietor of the great establishment she worked for, and she got more out of life than he did. I knew a schoolteacher in a little district twenty-five miles from a rail-road, in a school-house right in the forest, who took more pride in her work and in the progress of her pupils than some presidents of colleges whom I have known appeared to take in their duties.

A girl who declared that she never would do housework; that she never would cook, no matter what misfortunes might come to her, married a man who lost his money, and she was forced to part with her servants and to do the cooking herself for the family. She thought she never could do it, but she determined to make bread-making an art; to elevate cooking and make it a science in her home; and she succeeded.

No matter how humble your work may seem, do it in the spirit of an artist, of a master. In this way you lift it out of commonness and rob it of what would otherwise be drudgery.
You will find that learning to thoroughly respect everything you do, and not to let it go out of your hands until it has the stamp of your approval upon it as a trademark, will have a wonderful effect upon your whole character.

The quality of your work will have a great deal to do with the quality of your life. If your work quality is down, your character will be down, your standards down, your ideals down.
The habit of insisting upon the best of which you are capable, and of always demanding of yourself the highest, never accepting the lowest, will make all the difference between mediocrity or failure, and a successful career.

If you bring to your work the spirit of an artist, instead of an artisan — if you bring a burning zeal, an all-absorbing enthusiasm — if you determine to put the best there is in you in everything you do, no matter what it is, you will not long be troubled with a sense of drudgery.

Everything depends on the spirit we bring to the task. The right spirit makes an artist in the humblest task, while the wrong spirit makes an artisan in any callingno matter how high that calling may be.

There is a dignity, an indescribable quality of superiority, in everything we do which we thoroughly and honestly respect.

There is nothing belittling or menial which has to be done for the welfare of the race. You cannot afford to give the mere dregs, the mere leavings of your energies, to your work. The best in you is none too good for it. It is only when we do our best, when we put joy, energy, enthusiasm and zeal into our work, that we really grow; and this is the only way we can keep our highest self-respect.

We cannot think much of ourselves when we are not honest in our work — when we are not doing our level best. There is nothing which will compensate you for the loss of faith in yourself; for the knowledge of your reputation for doing bungling, dishonest work.

You have something infinitely higher within you to satisfy than to make a mere living, to get through your day's work as easily as possible. It is your sense of right; the demand within you to do your level best; to develop the highest thing in you; to do the right thing — to be a man. This should speak so loudly in you that the mere bread-and-butter question, the money-making question, should be absolutely insignificant in comparison.

Start out with a tacit understanding with yourself that you will be a man at all hazards; that your work shall express the highest and the best things in you, and that you cannot afford to debase or demoralize yourself, by appealing to the lowest, the most despicable, mean side of yourself by deteriorating, by botching your work.

How often we see people working along without purpose, half committed to their aim, only intending to pursue their vocation until they strike snags! They intend to keep at it as long as it is tolerable, or until they find something they like better. This is a cowardly way to face a life work which determines our destiny.

A man ought to approach his life task, however humble, with the high ideals that characterize a great master as he approaches the canvas upon which he is going to put his masterpiece — with a resolution to make no false moves that will mar the model that lives in his ideal.

A sacred thing, this, approaching the uncut marble of life. We cannot afford to strike any false blows which might mar the angel that sleeps in the stone; for the image we produce must represent our life work.

Whether it is beautiful or hideous, divine or brutal, it must stand as an expression of ourselves, as representing our ideals.

It always pains me to see a young person approaching his life work with carelessness and indifference, as though it did not make much difference to him how he did his work if he only got through with it and got his pay for it. How little the average youth realizes the sacredness, the dignity, the divinity of his calling!

There is a higher meaning, something broader, deeper, and nobler in a vocation than making a living or seeking fame. Making a life is the best thing in it. It should be a man-developer, a character-builder, and a great life-school for broadening, deepening, and rounding into symmetry, harmony, and beauty all the God-given faculties within us.

The part of our life work which gives us a living, which provides the bread and butter and clothes and houses and shelter, is merely incidental to the great disciplinary educative phase of it — the self-unfoldment. It is a question of how large and how grand a man or woman you can bring out of your vocation, not how much money there is in it.


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