14 September 2007

Honourable work

Look what I found yesterday! An old photo of my boys - H, Shane and Kerry. H would have been in his early 40s here.

Although I love working in my home and recognise that everything I do here makes life better for H and I, there are some chores I don't like doing. But as I work my way through each day, as I make our bed each morning, wash the dishes and sweep floors, I know that what I am doing contributes in a meaningful way to our lives.

When our sons were much younger and I was hoping that my methods of firm boundaries, loving guidelines and setting a good example, would produce the men they eventually became, through all those years of mothering, even in the tough times, I knew unreservedly it was an honourable task.

I look around today at a world that is faster and noisier, where you are held in high esteem if you live with secret debt in a fancy house, where people rush to judgement, where children take knives and guns to school and where people, especially women, wonder if their vocation to work at home or in the business world is the right one.

We need to look at work with fresh eyes, we need to respect the work we do, and the work of others. You will always feel undervalued and have a sense of not being recognised for your work - both in paid work or at home - if you do not try to work to your full potential, set quality standards for yourself and honour what you do.

If you want your work to be respected, you must first respect what you do. You have to give meaning to your own work - whatever it is. Work is its own reward, it brings self discipline, honour and gratification in a job well done. Set your own standards of quality, don't look at the next door neighbours or those you work with and wish for what they have. It's irrelevant. Care for and respect what you have. Respect what you do and others will too.

There is a sense of accomplishment in starting a job, setting your standard of quality, working through to the best of your ability, bit by bit, taking in every part of that work. It will give you a sense of achievement and pride in what you do. Being the best mum, writing an accurate and intelligent report, serving your customers well, baking a wonderful loaf of bread, tending your garden, collecting eggs, mentoring your work colleagues and being the best you can be will make your work honourable and make you better for it.

Focusing on how you work - be that at home or in the workplace - gives your day purpose, it helps you live deliberately and it will help you create a fuller life for yourself. If you can wake in the morning with a feeling of wanting to do your best, work through your day with a generous and happy heart and look back on what you've achieved with pride, then you've lived that day well, and to its full potential. And if that seems to be too much of a task for you to achieve, just start one step at a time. Concentrate on what you're doing, do small tasks well and take pride in them. Slowly you will start seeing all work as honourable and when you understand that, when you know that what you do contributes to the quality of your life, it will make it easier for you to totally embrace your work.
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