Work Should Be This Much Fun
I grew up near the ocean and spent my best times as a young person on the beach. Now I live in the mountains and there is no beach, but there is, occasionally, snow. What started as a chore for me has become one of my joys. Yes, shoveling snow is fun.
To be fair, I should say that I do not get this opportunity often. We’ve been here just over six years; in which time we’ve had two large storms that dumped about four feet of snow each. The rest of the time it has come in small doses. No matter, it all has to be dealt with.
When this was new to me, when I was a snow rookie, I did not really know what I was doing. Experience is a good teacher and I soon learned how to move the white stuff without twisting my back, how to bend, the shortest workflow to clear the drive, and to lubricate the shovel blade to make unloading it easy. What started as hard work and a chore has become something I look forward to. I enjoy it. These last three weeks have brought lots of enjoyment.
I am reminded of other times when drudgery became fun. One in particular stands out to me. When I was in Southeast Asia working as an aircraft maintainer, there was one particular job that no one wanted. I and another guy were the “New Guys In” at the time, meaning we often got the work orders no one else wanted. And there was one task that no one wanted, ever. It involved standing on top of ammo cans and stretching to reach high overhead to find, disconnect, and extract a piece of equipment, then replace it, all by feel as there was no way to get your eyes on it. On average, this job took about two hours to complete and invariably left the poor soul doing the work with a cramped back, stiff neck, aching arms, and sour attitude. I know this, there was a lot of cussing before, during, and after.
I think the first time my buddy and I got this task it took us four hours to do the job. We had no clue, but we figured it out. Then we got it again, and again. We started laughing about it, and then I guess muscle memory took effect and we became very good at it. It wasn’t long before we were turning the job over in thirty-five minutes and taunting the others to beat us. We asked for, and usually got, the task each time it came in. And we loved it. We turned drudgery and agonizing pain into fun.
What we learned then, and what I have re-learned with my snow shoveling experience, is that work can be fun. It isn’t about being the fastest at something. It is about doing it to the absolute best of your ability, learning from it, and enjoying it. No one resents work when they are having fun.
It is amazing how proficient we can become when we really apply ourselves, even to things we would not necessarily choose. I’ve seen it and experienced it throughout my professional career. The unknown is a test and challenge, but when you make it known, when you come to understand and appreciate it, it can become your ally.
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