That’s how I respond to my wife’s questions about my day on those days when I put in the work, but nothing particularly noteworthy happened. Nobody called to offer me a book deal, a speaking gig contract didn’t come through, and no, one of my articles didn’t go viral.
But these days are the ones I’m most proud of. My writing time got done. I was focused and insightful on my coaching calls. I reached out to the potential clients I wanted to. Basically, I checked off my to-dos and did the un-glamorous work that is really what running your own show is about.
Work is in Our DNA
A recent addition to my home office is a trio of photographs that my grandfather took sometime around 1959. He was a part-time photographer (in addition to being a high school teacher and a roofer in the summer…and oh, yeah, father to 10 kids) and my aunt had uncovered the photos as we were clearing out a dark room in the family home.
Two of the photos show scenes from the industrial area of Milwaukee: specifically the grain elevators for the Pabst and Schlitz Breweries. The other shows a crew of painters (that’s right, this is old school) painting a PBR billboard on the side of the building.
I hung these on the walls for a few reasons. They are beautifully-taken photos – my grandfather had a good eye. As a beer aficionado, I appreciate the reminder of Milwaukee’s beer past. And they ground me back to Milwaukee and the industrial area near where I grew up, which is now full of lofts and craft cocktail bars.
It is also a great reminder of the blue-collar roots that I (and many of us) came from. It wasn’t just my mom’s dad; my dad’s dad was a big-rig driver. A license plate from one of his trucks is framed opposite the photos.
The Value of Work for our Society and our Souls
I’ve been ruminating on the idea and value of good, old-fashioned work these days. Our economy is in flux and technology is replacing a lot of what we did in the past. Likewise, the work we do is often very different from the past. I spend my days on video calls and writing words on a computer screen, not driving a long-haul truck.
I haven’t come to any conclusions, but I have confidence in a few ideas.
- There is value in work. It has intrinsic worth for us as humans. There is value in putting effort towards a larger goal. We want to get out of the grind, but it would diminish us to not have something to work for. I’ve always been allergic to get-rich-quick schemes and the promises of anyone who can help me make six figures while sitting on the beach, because…
- Money will come when you contribute. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid and you should be if your work has value. But want to make more? Add more to the world.
- The next decade will be tumultuous economically as the effects of technology on work become more and more pronounced. I am committed to doing what I can to make sure that work remains a relevant part of our lives. And for me specifically, that means helping people learn the interpersonal skills that are uniquely human and can’t be replaced by algorithms.
- The more journeyman’s days I have, the better off I’ll be.
Are you willing to put in the work?
Have a RockStar Week!