“Why do you work so hard?” I used to ask my dad that question. He was on the road a lot when I was a kid. I wished that he was home more often. He told me he had to work. I say that to my kids now when they want to do something and I cannot. I have to work.
I have to work. I really do. As teachers, my husband and I both work to keep the fridge stocked and the roof repaired. Our growing sons need cleats and books and piano lessons. But I work for myself too. I need the satisfaction of my job. Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with my kids, but I also need the challenge of work. By the end of summer vacation I am chomping at the bit to work. I need to work, AND I want to work. It is who I am.
I believe in what I do. I am inspired by my school’s mission, by our goals, our values. I helped write these goals, conceive this mission. And so I work for them, as hard as I can. I think about how I can do my job better. I design curriculum that I think will connect with today’s teenagers. I attend all the training I can find, read everything I can lay my hands on. I love my job and know I am blessed to be working in a profession I love. I do not take this for granted.
But I know this is not the same for everyone. Most people have to work to survive. People need to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Work is not optional, and it is just work. It is hard. It wears us down and makes us long for Saturday. It is work. We do it because we must, but do we love work? Are we inspired to excel, to learn, to grow? Do we ache to go back after a long vacation?
You are a leader in your work whether you have that title or not. People see you do your job. Do you do it joyfully or are you working for the weekend? Do you do your best or are you just checking the boxes? Look around you. Can you help create and be a part of a culture, a company that changes how it thinks about the work? What if hard work wasn’t really work at all? And if it’s not work, is it really hard?
Inspiration or perspiration?
Why do you work so hard?