Work: A Job or a Mission?

I love seeing people happy at work. You see it in all kinds of places. Watch some of the chefs on television. It's so clear they are doing something they love and teaching others to do it too. Then there's my cousin the lawyer. He reached retirement age roughly two decades ago, but he loves the law and has never tired of it in over 50 years of practice. I've also seen lots of folks who aren't so happy on the job. Have you been in a store recently where two employees (or more) we're so engaged in discussing the timing of their breaks, they couldn't possible wait on you' I'm in full favor of breaks, but it always seems like one of those issues that should get resolved behind the scenes.

What makes the differences? I don't think it's the profession. There are happy and unhappy lawyers, teachers, bus drivers, etc., so it's not just the job that determines satisfaction. It's likely that happiness at work rests on variables as wide ranging as the amount of sleep you got the night before, opportunities lost or gained, or what your father thought you should be when you grew up. I do wonder, though, whether some component of happiness on the job rests on seeing the bigger picture. For example, early education teachers know a lot about young children. They've studied child development and are usually good observers of early behavior. These teachers spend a good part of their day arranging environments and activities that respond to children's interests and needs. That's what they've been hired to do. But is there more than meets the eye' What is there about this work that's greater than lesson plans? Early care and education teachers in child care centers and preschools are part of the proverbial village it takes to raise a child. Parents are children's first teachers, but these teachers nurture children's growth and learning through critical years of development. And they are the linchpins in the work life balance, allowing parents to go to their work confident that their children are in good hands.

There's joy in the moment of working with young children, but there's also the bigger, mission driven picture of partnering in the growth of children and the success of families. What gives purpose to what you do? What is the greater good that makes all the ups and downs worth the ride? What's the bigger picture of your work?

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.