November 22 – Doing what I loved and knowing that it mattered

November 22. “To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?” (Katharine Graham)

I have been blessed in my life to be sure. I could probably write 100 posts on examples of just how blessed I have been in so many areas of my life. One (or several) of them would be about how I have managed to find meaningful things to do that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

If you read through books and articles about finding the perfect job, you are bound to find the notion that if you are doing what you truly love to do, then the money will eventually come along. I have seen some debate around this, and have wondered whether it is universally true. If, for their jobs, everyone ONLY did things they truly loved to do, then there would be a lot of things that never get done. It’s hard for me to imagine that there are people who get up in the morning with a spring in their step and a whistle on their lips to head out when it is freezing cold and pick up someone else’s trash – just as an example. Perhaps there are such people, and that’s great. But you get my point, eventually we’d run out of people who would LOVE doing really distasteful jobs.

Honestly, most days that I go to work I do not wake up with a spring in my step and a whistle on my lips. I have talked often about how there are many aspects to my job that I don’t enjoy. But, they are part of the deal, and my job allows me to provide for my family. In that sense, it is meaningful and it matters, but it doesn’t pass the test of being something I love to do.

For me, when I have found those things that I love to do, and that matter, they have come mostly from outside of my work life. Other than being a husband and father, which definitely pass the test, the thing that comes to mind for me was when I was a Scout leader.

For 30 years, in one form or another, I was a Scout leader. I started as soon as I turned 18, and with just a couple of breaks along the way I continued until I was into my 40s. I truly loved working with the boys, teaching them the basics of scouting like camping, cooking, first aid, knot tying and so on. But more importantly I loved teaching them how to live by a code of conduct. I loved teaching them how to be Scouts.

My love of the outdoors was born in my experience as a Scout, and it grew as I progressed through the ranks. When I became an adult leader, I was able to get out on a very regular basis and enjoy the sights and sounds of the outdoors, while passing that love of camping on to the next generations. Clearly, I loved what I was doing.

And it most definitely mattered. I saw the effects that Scouting had on these boys as they matured into young men. Some of them I still keep contact with today. They are successful at their jobs, and in their lives as husbands and fathers. And I know that they still live their lives by the ideals of the scouting program, because it is evident in how they conduct themselves.

Truly, my time as a Scout Leader was some of the most fun that I have ever had in my life. Eventually it was time for me to move on to other challenges, and let a new generations of leaders take the reins. I will always remember my time as a leader as some of the most meaningful work I have ever done.

Today my reflection is on the idea of finding things in my life that I love to do, and that make a difference. As I said above, I have been blessed to have had many things like this in my life. Heading into the week of Thanksgiving, my thankfulness for those opportunities is much on my mind.

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