A Love of Work

There are very few times that I can remember in which I am counting the seconds until my work day ends. Don’t get me wrong, I have had days that I wish I were not working and would rather be anywhere doing something else. However, overall, I really do like to work.

There is something to the every day grind of showing up, doing what needs to be done, making connections that need to be made, and ensuring you do your part of the mission so others are enabled to do theirs. Most days, my work isn’t glamorous or life-changing (I honestly can’t think of a day when it was…).

I’ve always believed work should be measured by results and outcomes. How productive have I been in accomplishing XYZ today, this past quarter, or last year? Results and outcomes based on our role(s). Isn’t that what our performance appraisals are about after all?

The past couple of weeks I have immersed myself into our 2020 operational report, an annual requirement that we have neglected to do for a few years (Ssshhhh don’t tell!). My current Commanding Officer was determined we would submit one under his tenure (and this was before all the events of 2020 happened), and especially since last year was a significant year on so many levels, we wanted to do it. While reading through everyone’s inputs and putting it all together, it made me feel super proud to be part of this team. It reconnected me to our mission – a super cool mission, I must add – and made me realize just how much we have grown in size as well as scope of responsibility that our various teams have in defending Navy networks.

I also couldn’t help but feel that my role isn’t “quite enough”. It’s not because I don’t like what or enjoy what I do. I LOVE my roles and what I do, and I do quite a lot! In fact, my role(s) have evolved quite a bit since I moved into it a few years ago, in part, out of necessity and also because I’ve become a “go-to” person (i.e. “I get things done” or know who to go to get something done). I truly enjoy it, and now that I’ve been working from home too, my productivity has definitely increased on so many levels. So, what does “not quite enough” feeling mean exactly? In one sense, I want to be more involved. There is more that I can contribute, yet, where or how I’m just not sure. I’m not afraid to explore and find out… (that is what an Individual Development Plan is for, right?!)

What I truly love about my job is that I’ve made it what it is. It is meaningful work to me and to the team (I hope!). It allows me the opportunity to do hard work (and sometimes it is task-oriented or “busy” work), and yet it also gives me time to practice philosophy, to think deeply and critically, to read and learn more about what we do, to study people. I treat philosophy, much like my job, an opportunity for excellence and mastery. And I know that my work ethic is driven by my desire to practice and apply philosophy to meaningful work. I recently read that ancient philosophers actually had a word for this, philoponia – a love of work – to describe the industriousness or productivity of someone with a marrow-deep dedication to honest labor, not merely for money, but to improve oneself.

I pray you find this love of work in your work this week.

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