Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's not about the job; it's about the passion brought to it

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Many times, we make assumptions that the job someone has chosen in life was due to a decision made in desperation - or maybe someone had a gun to their head and forced them to do it.

I had an experience in the past week when I took my father to a seniors' foot care clinic put on by the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). These nurses have committed themselves to keeping the feet of older people healthy.

Now, I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind when we arrived was, "How can you do this all day?" I'm sure some of what they see is not pretty, but that is true of anyone in the health-care profession. Although I'm a fine specimen of a man, I'm sure they could even find a flaw somewhere on my body, too, if they looked hard enough after being initially blinded by the shine from my sizzling six pack of abs. OK, so maybe they'd have to shovel down a few feet to get to my abs and the glaring shine is actually coming from my pasty-white thighs. Everyone's allowed a fantasy or two.

The nurse treating my father was great. The other nurse working with her didn't have a client for the first part of our time there, so I got to talking to her. Come to find out she reads this column every week, which automatically gets her a free pass into heaven. (I have a deal with St. Peter, don't ya know!)

At one point, I mentioned something along the vein that it must be difficult doing that type of work because some aspects of it may be unpleasant. Both nurses perked up right away. Heck no! They loved doing this and loved the challenge of taking care of a difficult situation and making people feel better. I guess you could think of them as foot renovators. They loved seeing their clients being able to walk better and be in less pain.

Well, I guess I was told! And rightfully so! I loved their answer. Although it may not be my cup of tea, you certainly want to think that the health-care provider who's dealing with you is dedicated to making you better no matter what's wrong with you.

I guess I could have asked the same question of a proctologist... or urologist. I mean, really, how fun can it be poking around patients' sick "downstairs parts" all day? The answer isn't about having fun. It's about a commitment to - and passion for - making people feel better and getting them healthy again.

The world needs proctologists - ones passionate about getting you better. You hope you never need one, but if you do, you're sure glad they're around even though it may not be what it's all cracked up to be in your world.

There's a popular TV show on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs. Every week, host Mike Rowe takes on a "dirty job" that - one assumes - not a lot of people want to do. I've watched the show a few times and am always amazed at how dedicated these people are in doing their so-called "dirty jobs."

To name a few, Rowe has done the following tasks: determining the sex of porcupines (answer: "very carefully) in an animal sanctuary, animal control officer dealing with wildlife (including skunks), cricket farmer, high-rise window washer, spider venom extractor, diaper cleaner, animal renderer, bologna maker, leech trapper and maggot farmer. Now, you have to admit that some of those jobs don't sound like too much fun, but there are people out in the world who are passionate about them. And thank goodness for that!

After all, it's not about what you do in your career. It's about the passion you have for what you do!

There's another show on the Discovery Channel called Deadliest Catch. The show follows Alaskan king crab fishermen in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. It's cold. It's stormy. And it's dangerous. I've eaten Alaskan king crab on a few occasions and have never thought twice about the efforts made in fishing them. After watching a couple of episodes of Deadliest Catch, rest assured that I'll savour every morsel of crab I put in my mouth from now on.

The danger and life-threatening situations those fishermen go through are horrendous. They're paid well, apparently, but quite frankly there isn't enough money in the world for me to do what they do, but the passion that the ships' captains have for their jobs shines through. They want good product. They want efficient ships. They want to keep their men safe.

There are people passionate about working with dying people in palliative care. There are people passionate about being funeral directors. There are people passionate about being police officers, firefighters and paramedics. None of these are easy jobs. You find yourself dealing with danger, death, grief and illness every day.

I've seen coffee shop workers who serve their clients with passion whether they're only there to make some extra cash or whether it's their chosen career. I've also seen people in the same industry serve clients with a sullen, dead attitude that makes me want to run the other way. It's not the job itself. It's the passion in the people for the job.

Whether you want to take a crack at being a proctologist, deal with the prickly attitude of a porcupine by determining its sex, or wake the dead by whistling a tune while digging graves, remember that people are counting on you. And there's no shame in that!

3 comments:

Downes said...

FYI this is the sort of thing the newspaper should cover (but never does unless the person is related to a staff member):
http://twitter.com/nekonezume/statuses/27548050130

Carmel Vivier said...

Well said Brian. There are people passionate about their work who serve in the background day-after-day never receiving credit for a job well-done, or just plain 'doing the job'. These types of jobs make our lives easy. From the farmer who produces the food we eat to the people working the waste water plants - Thank You. And thanks Brian for writing this column.

Ray Hiltz said...

I'm currently reading Seth Godin's new book, Linchpin which addresses the need to make ourselves indispensable.

You do this by creating art on the job. He then defines art as anything that is creative, passionate and personal.

I agree with him. All of the people that I remember as having stood out from the crowd, be it at work, on stage or in politics are all people who were passionate about what they do and give endlessly of themselves to do it.

These are people who are stakeholders at work, not placeholders.

Thanks again for a good read.