Many people have at least a basic understand of the pioneer history of the Latter Day Saints (the “Mormons.”) Those pioneers that came from different parts of the world, and traveled West to escape religious persecution, were truly the foundation of the early Mormon church.They knew how to work, harder perhaps that almost anyone who came before, or after them.
Fast forward to 1936, when the LDS church inaugurated its “Welfare Program,” designed to help people avoid “the evils of the dole.” In the wake of the Great Depression, the LDS church was decrying an attitude of “something for nothing,” and offering instead a program that would allow church members to get the help they needed, with the expectation that they would give something in return. That program has seen such success over the years, and has changed so many lives for good, that one could hardly argue that it is not inspired.
Today, LDS church members are frequently hired in positions that require honesty, and a willingness to work. That is not to say that only LDS people have these traits (or that all LDS people have them,) but rather to point out that the business world in general recognizes that the LDS church produces hard workers, with good work ethics, good morals, and good leadership skills. In general, we strive to take after our ancestors, and place emphasis on work and self-reliance, in all that we do.
But does that mean we “love” work? Does it mean that work is somehow automatically easier for a Mormon, that for another person of some other faith or no faith at all? Of course not. And that brings me to the topic that I wanted to write on this week, which is: how can we make work easier? By this I mean mentally easier: easier to find motivation to get it done; easier to find value in it; easier to just do it.
In one of the classes I’m taking currently, we had discussion about work this week. One comment that was made by a classmate stood out to me in particular. They said something along these lines:
How can we make work easier? Strive to see and understand who it affects. Find joy in the results of what you’re doing, and the positive things that it accomplishes in the lives of others.
I wish I could recall their words exactly, because they hit me pretty hard. I have personally struggled with my work at times, not because it is too hard, too challenging, or too excessive, but for other reasons I haven’t fully pinned down. I’ve struggled with finding the right motivations, staying on task, and really finding joy in my work.
The first part of what my classmate suggested was that we try to understand who our work affects. This takes the focus off of the work itself, and places the focus on the results. This sort of “results orientation” is something that I have a fondness for, having learned it in the culture of companies I’ve worked for, and used it in my own business culture and ideals. But this thought takes the idea of results orientation to another level, and changes it to “personal impact orientation.” In other words, not just “what are the results of my work?” but “how is my work affecting the lives of other people?” This, to me, is powerful thinking.
The second part of what my classmate says really expands upon the first, and invites me to look for the positive impact of my actions and work. It is easy to relate success, accomplishment, and project completion to a “job well done.” But perhaps I’ve been selling myself short. Perhaps in my work I should be looking for the impact I’m having on people, and what my work means in their lives, in any way I can, in order to find joy in what I do.
It is simply easier to work, even when the work is hard, tedious, or even painful, when we know that our work means something, that it changes lives, and that it impacts the course of history. I think that in some way, we can find that in all that we do that is good and honest. No matter what the job is, the fact that it gets done helps someone, or even many people. Our task is to understand who our work helps, and find out how the results of our work are blessing the lives of those around us.
I pray that we might all find this joy. Please feel free to post, here or on my questions page, if you have any thoughts you would like to share, or questions you would like answered.