When work is just work


A perfect capture of my friend Colleen and beautiful little friend of ours on a rest stop over to the zoo

Recently, I got a chance to hang out with three wonderful kids. Their self-control and their ability and willingness to obey were uncanny. They clearly knew where the chocolate stash was, they clearly knew I didn’t know the normal bounds that their parents had set for them, etc. I was also astonished by how fair they played whiffle ball.  They allowed the girls to self-pitch, they allowed their youngest brother to be an all-time batter… they cared to win fair and square, which is a quality not found often these days. Now, if I had gone there simply to babysit, that would literally require me to simply sit while the kids did their own thing. However, what kind of value would I actually be providing? Perhaps I might get paid at the end of this sitting, but whose time did I waste? Theirs or mine?

These days, our society has made it all about convenience. The monstrosity of the grocery store chains pretty much prove that. While there are strides and efforts being made to swing the other direction, our society hasn’t budged all that much from that capitalistic culture. This also means we miss out on some of the great things that happen because we’re focused on being there rather than the getting there. We don’t want to be a added value to everything but just in our self-determined chosen path. This leaves us to do the real job just half done. Do we really think that history changers have only done the job they were required to do? Of course not!

I’m a strong proponent for leaving more than a trace behind. I did indeed have to check my heart to not strive beyond my capacity but if I am able, why not? Why not bring greater value to those around you, all the time? Parents that have young kids are busy all the time. They rarely have time for themselves. However, in this society, we’ve become so individualistic that families have to go on their own or pay people to provide some sort of service. When work is just work, a babysitter will do no more than make sure there is no fighting, no complaining, kids are fed and then in bed. However, when your heart is in the work as Andrew Carnegie puts it, you see the cute little faces that want to just hang out with you, that want to include you in their whiffle ball game, that want to jump with you on the trampoline, that want to tell you stories and equally want to hear your stories. You get to see smiling faces look at you not wanting to go to sleep because they would rather hang out with you.

Often times, even taking a break is more work for parents as their to-do list has not shrunk. However, when your heart is in the work, you realize that the pile of dishes isn’t something you want them to come home to especially if they had an official night off. You realize that your job isn’t about you fulfilling your responsibilities but about what you can bring to the table. Now, babysitting, that’s easy. If you know the basics of hanging out with kids, finding the kid in you, cleaning, cooking, basic housework, you’re good to go. However, when you’re talking about other work, it really requires you to know, “What is your special sauce?” as Leif Hetland puts it. What is it that you can actually bring to the table?