Are you searching for meaning in your work? Or more precisely, are you searching for meaningful work? It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life.
For many of us we know the truth that we find meaning in Christ as seen in John 17:3. We know we are created in Christ for good works, for we are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). In relationship with Christ, we have an anchor that gives us meaning as God’s children. How we search for that in our work is significant.
As a young boy, I searched for meaning in what I was doing, and my search hasn’t changed as an adult.
I have observed that most people are searching for meaningful work. And I have found most leaders are searching for meaningful work as well.
People searching for meaningful work, why? Why is there such a void and emptiness when people go to work each day? Why are there so many organizations with people drifting just to get by?
What do you do each day and why do you do it? Why do you get out of bed? Do you get up and do what’s necessary to simply receive a paycheck? Or is there something bigger happening?
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s new parent company (Alphabet), knows that if you keep asking questions you will find better answers, and it is the best way to gain deeper insights. Schmidt said,
“We run this company on questions, not answers.”
Are you laying bricks or building a cathedral?
My good friend and mentor, Jim Lundy, would often tell a simple story to convey the truthful difference between two bricklayers:
“Both bricklayers were asked what they were doing. The first bricklayer, who worked under an ineffective manager, replied gruffly, ‘I’m laying bricks.’ The second, whose supervisor was a communicative leader, looked up with a smile and said, ‘I’m helping build a cathedral!’”
Why did one bricklayer think he was laying only bricks while the other thought he was building a cathedral?
Leadership! Yep, that’s right. Leadership!
“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
– John Maxwell
It’s easy to see that the first bricklayer’s boss focused on what his men did. The leader over the second laborer communicated why the work was occurring and reinforced the purpose of the completed project. What would you like your people to do? Would you like them to simply help you lay bricks? Or would you like them to enthusiastically help you build cathedrals?
Meaningful Work is Found in the Why
As the leader, you may ask yourself, “How can we as a team have that passion, that ‘fire in the belly’ to go and build cathedrals?”
It is to believe in and to communicate consistently your company’s purpose – Why do you exist?
You may be thinking, “That’s it?” Well…There is more to leading a peak-performance team, but knowing, and communicating why your organization exists is one necessary ingredient in the process.
Let’s say you, as the leader, have declared the purpose of your company. But it takes much more than you just announcing the organization’s purpose.
It starts with you being a worthy leader that your people are willing to follow.
“People will follow a worthy leader before they will follow a worthy cause.”
– Bobby Albert
So, how do you become a worthy leader? You can only become a worthy leader if you have the trust of your people!
Trust is the foundation of worthy leadership.
When you have the trust of your people, you can then effectively communicate and model the purpose of your organization.
People will forgive occasional mistakes when they know you, as the leader, are bigger on the inside than you are on the outside.
But when you break trust, you forfeit your ability to lead, and you no longer can expect to keep influencing your people.
Leaders earn respect by…
- Integrity… Making sound decisions.
- Humility… Admitting your mistakes.
- Authenticity… Be yourself with everyone.
- Selflessness… Putting what’s best for your followers and the organization ahead of your personal agenda.
A leader must first believe in their people before their people will believe in the leader. And a leader must believe in and live out the organization’s purpose as well. You can’t lead in something you don’t believe in and practice yourself.
- Have you found meaningful work?
- Are the people in your organization laying bricks or building a cathedral?
- Have you become a worthy leader that your people truly desire to follow?
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