Posts Tagged ‘rewarding’

“Life’s Little Instruction Book.” – H. Jackson Brown

Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Today I am grateful for people who do the jobs many of us do not want to do.  A reminder of this comes from H. Jackson Brown’s book entitled Life’s Little Instruction Book, Volume II: A few more suggestions, observations, and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life:

“727. Show extra respect for people whose jobs put dirt under their fingernails.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Here’s a great article by Steve Waters on that subject, from:

Praise for Work That Gets Dirt Under Your Fingernails
by Steve Watters on 05/27/2009 at 8:37 AM

As more “information worker” jobs get the axe in a recessionary economy, jobs that tend to put dirt under your fingernails are getting a second look from young workers. Last week, the New York Times Magazine ran a lengthy article on this topic by Matthew Crawford called “The Case for Working With Your Hands.” I read quite a bit over the course of a week and I haven’t read anything this engaging or provocative in a long time. Here are some appetizers:

Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day?

…The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

…One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

…The trades suffer from low prestige, and I believe this is based on a simple mistake. Because the work is dirty, many people assume it is also stupid. This is not my experience.

…So managers learn the art of provisional thinking and feeling, expressed in corporate doublespeak, and cultivate a lack of commitment to their own actions. Nothing is set in concrete the way it is when you are, for example, pouring concrete.

…Why not encourage gifted students to learn a trade, if only in the summers, so that their fingers will be crushed once or twice before they go on to run the country?

…For anyone who feels ill suited by disposition to spend his days sitting in an office, the question of what a good job looks like is now wide open.

I suspect this article will hit home with anyone who has looked for purpose among cubicle walls and failed to find anything quite as rewarding as their hands-on projects of days gone by.


Thank you Steve Waters!

Here’s to those who help to make the real world work better for the rest of us, eh?

Doc Meek, Wednesday, November 10, 2010, at Strathcona Public Library, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

P.S. Tomorrow (in Canada) we celebrate Remembrance Day (November 11), in honor of those who do the ultimate “dirty jobs” and sometimes pay with their very lives: the armed services personnel.

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
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