There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes. – William J. Brennan, Jr.
What does that mean?
Have you ever thought, or heard someone say, that a job is beneath them? It could be cleaning an icky mess, or some other form of manual labor. It might be something that is considered beneath their station, or perhaps they have ‘people’ to take care of that.
Those are examples of menial attitudes. Attitudes that say the person is too important to do such a lowly task. It says that it is the job of someone else, and implies that the designated person is somehow less for that assignment. And avoiding that ‘being less’ is the whole point, right?
Jobs are simply jobs. Someone has to do them. Whether it’s changing your baby’s diaper or latrine duty, it has to be done. Arguing with others in the house regarding who was next in rotation to do the task isn’t going to get anything accomplished, is it?
If we aren’t careful, we will get focused on ourselves, or on the person we believe is not doing their ‘fair share’ and lose the big picture. Fortunately, most babies are quite capable of refocusing our attention on the problem at hand, regardless of our distractions. Do the job!
Why are all jobs important?
There is an old joke about different body parts arguing over which is the most important body part. In the end, the most menial part wins the argument. Consider how quickly most garbage strikes end. Nobody wins when refuse builds up, except the rats, odors, and diseases.
Some consider garbage collecting a menial job, or perhaps dishwashing at a restaurant. But consider what life would be like if no one did that job. The dishwasher is a critical, not menial, job at a restaurant. Without it, there would be no clean plates on which to serve the food.
Not all jobs are glamorous, and some are more than a little disgusting. If you’ve ever seen Mike Rowe’s TV show “Dirty Jobs” you have a feel for what I’m attempting to point out. But all of them are necessary for the world to function properly. It may be small comfort, but it’s true.
Where can I apply this in my life?
How many times have you seen things grind to a halt because some ‘menial’ task needed to be done, and all anyone wanted to do was get someone else to do it? How frustrating was that? How many times did you volunteer to do it, just to get things back on track?
I imagine we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Perhaps someone else beat us to the task, but even recognizing what the real problem was and considering the solution is a bigger step than many are able to take. Bonus points if you actually took one for the team and did the task.
In my opinion, far too many people focus on who has to do something and being ‘fair’ (at least in their minds) about the distribution of unpleasant or menial tasks. Life isn’t fair, so I try not to get hung up on that point. I believe we should work as a team and get things done.
Yes, with that attitude, you’ll get more than your ‘fair share’ of the crappy jobs. But what is the big picture? Do more things get done, is the greater good served by your willing to do the menial, to do the icky, or the unpleasant things? If so, quit whining and get busy!
There was a recent example of some note. The new Pope, shortly after his inauguration, went to a prison and washed the feet of the prisoners. Washing feet is one of the lowliest jobs possible in most cultures. That’s not his job, right?
Many would say that the job is clearly beneath anyone of any significant stature or status. Yet the Pope did so out of humility and service. One could presume that he didn’t have a menial attitude. And we can learn a lot from such an action. We can just go ahead and do the job and get it done.
How much do you resist these jobs? When you do, what is your mindset? Are you deliberately trying to stop things, or are you doing something ‘noble’ by fighting for your dignity? Is it the turn of someone else? I don’t condone shirking, but neither should you hold progress hostage because of it.
If it is slowing things down, take the issue offline and deal with it there. There are bigger things at stake. The turning point for me was when I had to change diapers. That really put things in perspective for me. Watching Mike Rowe’s show helped remind me that there are some things far worse than I have ever had to do.
Perspective. Is the job really as menial or as bad as you think? Who cares what others think if they see you helping out or lending a hand? Some do, but I don’t. What is too menial for you? Has the definition changed, having read this post? I hope so.
From: Twitter, @cyberbonn
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williamjb104179.html
Photo by danieljordahl
Happy Birthday to former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, born 25 April, 1906.