Ever heard the story of John F. Kennedy and the Janitor?
During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
Unusual answer, right?
A more expected answer would have been “well I’m just cleaning the building”. Or, “oh well, I’m just doing my shift, so I can have enough to pay my bills.”
But to this janitor, he wasn’t just cleaning the building or trying to earn a living, in the larger story unfolding around him, he was helping to make history.
Imagine if we all thought like this?
What If the traffic warden saw himself as more than a “warden”, but rather as a key contributor in making city transportation safer, saner and less stressful?
What if the receptionist no longer saw her work as insignificant, but rather as crucial, being the first connection between a potential customer and the organisation- getting the chance to help the company make a great first impression?
What if the bank teller saw his work beyond the front desk, and more as a significant participant in progressing the nation’s economy?
As John Nemo says, “No matter how large or small your role, you are contributing to the larger story unfolding within your life, your business and your organization.”
To find meaning in what we do is to look beyond the work to the effect it creates on our colleagues, customers and country. It means to see how our work fits into the bigger picture of the value our organization delivers to its clients.
So step back and take a larger look at your job. Redefine the value of what you do, in light of the overall value your company delivers, and share what you come up with in the comments below.
P.S Need more help finding relevance in your work? Or perhaps how you can make work more meaningful for your employees? Check out the at the links at the end.
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