Written by Davis Nguyen
Your first job (or even first couple of jobs) won’t always excite you. In fact, you might find yourself daydreaming of doing something, anything else.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find some reason to make the 40+ hours you spend at your job meaningful.
When I was 14, I heard the following story that reminds me of how much power we have to shape how we view our work:
On a foggy autumn day nearly 1000 years ago, a merchant traveling in England happened upon a group of three masons working.
Despite already being late for an important meeting, our traveller decides to stop and inquire the trio about their work.
He moved toward the first of the three masons and asked, "Dear fellow, what is it that you are doing?"
The man continued his work and grumbled, "I am cutting stones."
Realizing that the mason did not wish to be bothered, our traveler moved toward the second of the three and repeated the question, “My dear sir, what is it that you are doing?”
To the traveler’s delight this time, the man stopped his work, and replied, “I am cutting stones. I came to London from the north to work, but as soon as my work is done and I get paid, I shall return to my wife and kids back north.”
The traveler thanked the second mason, wished him a safe journey home, and began to head to the third and last of the masons.
When he reached the third worker, he once again asked the original question,
"What are you doing?"
The third worker paused, stood up, and glanced at the traveler until they made eye contact before replying,
"I am a mason and I am building a cathedral. I have come far to build this cathedral. I have spent many months away from my wife and kids whom I miss dearly. However, I know how important this cathedral will be one day, and I know how many people will find sanctuary and solace here.’
Satisfied, our traveler continued on his route leaving the three masons to continue their work.
You can’t always do what you love, but you can almost always find a way to love what you do.
You can view tasks you don’t enjoy in your life as mundane and beneath you, or you can view them as opportunities to better things.
Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.