Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty

July 30, 2008

This started as a comment, but got too long.

I agree with this. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be committed to an organisation, because it can’t commit to you. I know too many people who’ve had their hearts broken by redundancy after a lifetime’s service – not because of the loss of the job per se, but because they’ve discovered that their commitment to the company is not reciprocated.

But I think it’s possible to be committed to work in other ways. I think we can be committed to do a job as well as possible, even if it will be over by the end of the week. I think we can be committed to be present, to show up and do our best, even if we have no control over the outcome. I think we can be committed to people, to keep our word, to do what we’ve said we’ll do either verbally or through signing a contract with an company. I think we can be committed to learning, or to giving of ourselves without requiring reward or validation. (Not giving everything, but giving something real.)

We can be committed to a mission – to contribute to building equality, for example – through our work, through relationships and conversations, through how we lead our lives. (This isn’t a post about spirituality, but one of my favourite quotes is from St Francis of Assisi: evangelise wherever you go, and, if necessary, use words.) We can be committed to a path: to be loving, to grow, to spread clear thinking and reason. We can be committed to humanity – to do all our work in a way that will give something to others. I expect there are more.

At the moment, I’ve got as far as the concept of commitment. It’s everywhere in my thoughts right now. But I don’t yet know what I will commit to, and how I will practice it. I think it will take a while, because I’ve been doing the opposite for so long.

This list is a good place to kick off my thoughts, and I hope that more insight will come.


9 Responses to “Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty”

  1. Sarah Jane Says:

    Attempting to answer this as a comment rather than another post, because that could go on all night…

    That makes sense. I do think I need more of a work ethic. Oddly enough, the more I manage to construe work as the thing I do between 8:30 and 5:30 Monday to Friday, and the less I angst about wanting it to be more, the easier I find that. There is something soothing in doing things because that’s what I’m there for, and not as part of a bigger plan.

  2. Francesca Says:

    that could go on all night…

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    I think you’re right. Maybe it’s about redefining ‘work ethic’ to mean ‘keeping my word’ or ‘doing my work well’ rather than ‘changing the world’ or ‘achieving self-actualisation’. What’s most resonant and powerful for you?

  3. Sarah Jane Says:

    To me “work ethic” definitely implies slogging away at my job because it is my job, and is a long way from changing the world or achieving my full potential. And I have never seen myself as a slogger, because that suggests dull plodding, and I was always told I was brilliant. (We have been here before, I think.) I find it hard to hear the phrase without “Puritan” in front of it, and the whole thing smacks slightly of dost-think-because-thou-art-virtuous-there-shall-be-no-more-cakes-and-ale.

    However, it does seem to be the key to a quiet life.

  4. Francesca Says:

    Not so much a quiet life but a less painful life is the point, I think. Looking for meaning at work doesn’t seem to have brought you happiness, and not doing any work at all doesn’t seem to have brought you happiness either. Maybe there is something to be found in just getting on with it.

    I’m not sure whether it could be made similar to the kind of happiness I get from pure manual labour such as cleaning the windows in my parents’ conservatory?

  5. Phil Says:

    my problem is that I find it very difficult to work for an organisation I don’t believe in, yet whenever I’ve been employed by a company I do believe in, I end up with them taking advantage of this and feeling like I’ve been shafted. I’ve never felt like I’ve been charge of my working life. Which is partly why I’m going back to university, to give myself a space within which I an figure out a place I can fit in. Because I’ve never belonged, I’ve never felt in step with the majority of people around me. And like both of you, I don’t yet know whether it’s just me, the organisations I’ve worked for, or a combination of both. My defense mechanism has been to blame those around me – its the only way to maintain a little self respect without descending into a morass of self loath and recrimination – but these days I’m not so sure. I guess I’ll keep working on it.
    BTW, SSP is brilliant, keep up the good work.

  6. Francesca Says:

    I will reflect on this and supply a proper answer, either here or in person, but in the meantime, *hugs*

  7. Alithea Says:

    I have rather a soft spot for St Francis 🙂

    This has been an intersting discussion, thank you.

  8. Francesca Says:

    This is one of my favourite things ever.

  9. patrickhadfield Says:

    We can be committed to a path: to be loving, to grow, to spread clear thinking and reason.” I think I said yesterday sometimes it felt like are my conscience. It really does.

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