Meaningful Work is a Privilege


Les Misérables (1934 film)A reader of mine is tired of her job. Life isn’t going her way. Her employer is sending signals that it’s not working out.

Of course, this reader is angry. She made lists with detailed points as to why her employer sucks and doesn’t get it. She cares too much. She’s too advanced for this role. She wants to push them beyond their comfort zone. And they are not ready.

And none of this is conducive to her life plan, by the way. This is not meaningful work. So my dear reader is doing a job search. Unfortunately, she is so depressed that she is seeing a therapist and feels drained at the end of the day.

What can she do?

I said, “You don’t deserve meaningful work.”

Ouch, I know.

Meaningful work — the kind of job where you make a difference — is a privilege. The jobs that require us to use our brains and our hearts? Those are the very same jobs that require us to bring our best selves to the work.

When you have a meaningful job, you must demonstrate resiliency. Gravitas. You have to be a calm and thoughtful voice in the eye of a storm.  Very few among us can do it. Very few of us realize that we are in control. We are not what happens to us; we choose who we become. (That’s Jung.)

We only need to look to Freud to remember that, one day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike us as the most beautiful. I am hardly on “Team Freud” but I think that horrible jobs are the price we pay for building the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to do meaningful work and follow our passion later in life.

We all deserve dignity and respect; however, meaningful work is not a right. It is an honor and privilege earned through a little bit of pain and suffering.

So I asked my reader — and I’m asking you — are you worthy of meaningful work?

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