It’s a simple question. Why did you come into work today?
Why do you get up every morning, get dressed, and commute to the job you have?
You could have any job. So, why do you, day after day, go to the one you have?
If you are sitting there without a clear answer to this question, now is the time to figure it out.
I learned my answer over a decade ago. To understand mine, and maybe get some perspective on your answer, I first have to tell you what I learned from a guy named Wing.
Wing was the Lead Mechanical Designer for an engineering firm I worked for. He had been there for many years and personified the definition of “company guy.’
He was the first one at the office in the morning and the last one to leave at night. Wing’s commitment to the firm was unshakable. If you were unlucky enough to go in over the weekend, you would probably see Wing there.
He was one of the most well-respected people in a 600+-person firm. Everybody loved Wing, including me. Even the President of the firm would happily share stories about Wing (like when David Letterman included him in a comedy bit).
Wing proudly displayed various pictures of his son and daughter throughout his office. Despite his success at work, these were his two crowning achievements.
Wing’s sense of humor and outlook on life was legendary. In fact, it helped me through a scary time in my early career.
As a young marketer, I was tasked with conducting a marketing presentation for our office every quarter.
At that point, I was a terrible public speaker. Although I felt comfortable in everybody’s presence, once I stood in front of the office I became a bundle of nerves. My quivering voice and shaking hands made my lack of confidence apparent.
From the audience, Wing interjected, “Remember, you still on probation!”
I had been with the firm for three years!
But that was Wing’s way of telling me, “Hey, you are among family, this is no big deal.” To this day, once someone cracks a joke at me my nervousness goes away.
What A Robbery Taught Us About Work And Life
A couple months from that day, Wing developed brain cancer. As I said, Wing’s commitment was unshakable. He would still come into work. He was still the first one in and the last one out.
But we were seeing Wing slowly lose his battle against cancer. He lost weight. He underwent surgery but would still walk into the office with a giant scar around his head.
Chemotherapy was adding to the attack against his body. The admins would bring him food, but Wing was unable to eat.
Before our eyes, Wing slowly died. There was nothing we could do about it.
Practically everybody at the office attended Wing’s funeral. During the funeral, Wing’s daughter walked up to the podium. She was clearly distraught and inconsolable.
With tears streaming down her eyes she said, “I feel robbed today. My father spent so much time at work that I never got a chance to know him. Many of you people here know my father better than I do. So all I can feel is robbed.”
Among the rough and tumble engineers and construction professionals, there was not a dry eye in the crowd. As we walked back into work, my office cohorts looked like zombies. Reality had slapped everybody in the face, including me.
On that day, something became quite apparent to me as I questioned why I decide to come into work every day.
It’s For Our Family, It’s For Their Family
The reason we work has less to do with us and is more about the people we love.
Some people proclaim to “love what they do.” But if you really question them, they are most likely to admit that there is something that they would rather be doing with the ones they love that doesn’t involve marketing construction-related services.
Why is this important? Because your job is to keep the people at your firm employed. And like you, they work to support their families and the people they love.
That’s a heavy burden to bear. Heavier if you ever witnessed or conducted layoffs. And although it’s sometimes tough to put in the extra effort or get out of our comfort zone, we must not forget why it is we do what we do.
Work To Live
We also have to make sure we provide the appropriate attention to our loved ones. It’s import that we communicate the importance of this mission for our families at home and our extended families at work.
There is an old saying that goes, “You work to live, you do not live to work.” Truer words have never been spoken.
If you do not care about the people you work with…
…if you do not view and treat them as your family…
…if you do not concern yourself with their family’s well-being…
…find another job!
Someone somewhere entrusted you with the responsibility of helping to keep your co-workers gainfully employed. Therefore, you have a moral obligation to be effective and conduct every day, and every task, with the importance it deserves.
And today is the day to start.
Share Your Why
Now it’s your turn to share with the group. Why are you working today? There are no wrong answers.
Share yours by posting a comment below.