How fully do you engage with the work right in front of you?
You know the story of the three bricklayers at the same work site.
When asked what they were doing one says, “I am laying bricks.” The next one says, “I am making a building.” The third says, “I am creating a cathedral.”
The story is often told as a moral story about seeing a greater purpose and meaning to your work. The third bricklayer is pointed out as a person with purpose. But I am partial to the first bricklayer who saw what was right in front of him. I am not opposed to cathedral builders and greater purposes but I believe we need to learn to love our bricks.
Feel your work.
See what you are making or doing right now.
Engage fully with what is right in front of you.
Dwell in the here and now.
Dedicate yourself to your bricks.
Be absorbed by your bricks.
Bring energy to your bricks.
We can always engage with the process even when we don’t have control over the final outcome. Know you did your work and you did your work well.
The church steering committee can always cancel the cathedral building project, your boss can fire you, the architect can demolish your wall, or an earthquake can crumble your building — but no one can take what you did away from you when you engage fully each day with your bricks.
There is an old zen saying,
“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
Just change the word enlightenment to engagement and work can give you all you will ever need in the moment of working.
Bricks can be each customer on the phone, the surgery you are doing right now, or the road you are navigating with your truck or bus.
Your brick is always the work right in front of you in this current moment.
Go ahead, get some kicks out of your bricks.
What’s your brick?
This post was inspired by my wife’s current experiences of work and is dedicated to Albert Johnson from Smiley Saskatchewan
David Zinger is an employee engagement expert and speaker whose bricks today were the chiclet keys on his keyboard and the words appearing on his screen.