What do you call work?

Photo by Snap Shock

I read a book a few days ago that mentioned the famous Tom Sawyer story about whitewashing the fence. Tom is punished. The punishment is whitewashing a fence. A hard laborious job. One by one, he lures his friends to join him, by convincing them that not only whitewashing is fun, it is an opportunity of a life time. this is one short example from the story:

“Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say – I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work – wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth – stepped back to note the effect – added a touch here and there – criticised the effect again – Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Tom succeeds in not only making his friends do the all the work for him, but also in getting them to trade their treasures for the opportunity to do the work for him.

Like many things in life, work is in the eye of the beholder.

And I ask you this – do you call you work work? What would your workday be like if you looked at work as a privilege?

More importantly, if you are a manager, do your employees treat work like work? What are you doing to help them see work as an opportunity?



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