Four Ways to Take Your Job from Ordinary to Extraordinary

This week, I’m doing my civic duty by serving on a jury in my local court system. The juror parking area is about a mile away from the courthouse. So I’m supposed to arrive by a certain time each morning, park in the appointed lot, and hop on the free shuttle bus to the courthouse.

On Monday, I was expecting an ordinary ride on the bus to the courthouse, but was treated to an extraordinary one instead. The bus driver, who drives the same bus on the same route, day in and day out, made the ride a fun and interesting experience for us all.

First, he greeted everyone warmly and with a great big smile.  He made us feel special and he brightened our day.

Second, he made up some kind of poetic rhyme as he announced each bus stop (there were two stops before I got off at the courthouse). Each time he performed his song-song routine, everyone chuckled.

Third, when passengers exited the bus, he yelled out a hearty “Thanks for riding, and have a great day!”

When I got off the bus, several other passengers remarked about how funny the driver was, and how he took his otherwise ordinary (if not boring) job and made it an extraordinary experience for himself and everyone else.

Later, while we were all waiting to see if we’d be selected to hear a case (I was), I couldn’t help but think about my experience on the bus.

I came up with four ways in which we all can take our jobs, no matter how mundane, boring, or “dead-end,” from the ordinary to the extraordinary:

  1. Make it fun. Find some way to liven things up a bit and make it more enjoyable for your co-workers and customers.  If you’re limited in what you can do to make it fun for everyone, find a way to at least make your job more fun for yourself.  Maybe you can try a practical joke every now and then (on the right people at the right time), or  bring in donuts or bagels.  Maybe you can decorate your work space, add some pizazz to your personal dress style, or enlist your co-workers in a charitable cause you believe in.  Regardless of the job or the boss, I believe everyone can find some way to make their job a little more fun.
  2. Make it memorable.  Find a way to leave your mark.  Think of something positive that you want to be known for – and make it your personal trademark or brand.  Maybe it’s gag gifts of appreciation that you give out when someone ought to be thanked or rewarded.  Or maybe a certain positive action you do or a saying that you want to be known for.  Maybe it is a special theme tie or outfit that you wear at holiday times.  Or perhaps you simply focus on being a better listener and being fully present when others have something to say.
  3. Ask “What can I learn”.  Even in “dead-end” jobs, we can all find something to learn.  So keep your eyes open for things you’d like to learn or ways you want to improve.  Who is one person you’d like to learn from?  Ask them.  You can easily find one new thing to learn each week.  In no time, you’ll increase your marketable skills, add value to your company, and grow in your personal relationship network.
  4. Ask “Who can I help”.  There’s probably someone at work – a fellow employee, boss, or customer, who needs something from you.  Maybe it is a word of encouragement or praise, maybe it’s a tip or suggestion, or perhaps you have some special skills or abilities that others would like to develop.  Take a good look around you.  Pay attention to what’s going on.  Find someone you can serve or help today.

I believe everyone can do something to take their job from the ordinary to the extraordinary.  Give it a try.  It just might change you.  It just might change your work place.

What do you think?  And does anyone have any other tips or ideas to share?

Is Your Job a Gift From God?

On Sundays, I write on Spirituality, Faith and Ethics.  Click here to read why.

A few years ago, I heard Marcus Buckingham, one of Gallup’s lead researchers and author of Now Discover Your Strengths, speak at a conference.  He said something that absolutely floored me:

80% of Americans feel unhappy and unfulfilled in their work.

That number, he said, was up from 70% a few years before!  My mouth dropped open when I heard the news!  I had no idea.

Could it really be true that eight out of ten men and women, maybe even you, work at a meaningless job that doesn’t match their purpose and calling in life?  Sadly, it was true.

And then a thought came to mind – actually, it was a verse of scripture – that really gave me something to think about!

That each person finds pleasure in his work…this is a gift from God. – Ecclesiastes 3:13

These were the words of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived.  I sat and thought about the verse for a few minutes, and then I asked myself,

How is it that God intends for each person to find pleasure and meaning in his or her work…and yet only 20% of Americans actually do.  Is God really playing a cruel trick on the other 80% who don’t find pleasure in their work?  Or are they missing something somewhere?”

Later, I had an “A-ha” moment and wondered if the key to the whole thing was the word “gift”?  What if God does give each of us meaningful and pleasurable work as a gift…but few people ever take the time to look for the gift or to receive it?”

After all, someone may give me a gift by placing it under the Christmas tree.  But that gift isn’t really mine until I look under the tree, find the gift, pick it up, shake it, open it, and eventually use it.

That’s just the way it is, I believe, with our work, if we see it as a gift from God.  I believe God gives each of us a calling in life and work we’re meant to do.  But He doesn’t often make it so plain for us to see, does He?  We don’t typically hear a declaration from heaven saying, “John Smith, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to…”  Life sure would be simpler if He did!

Instead, He wraps up our calling like a gift and places it inside of us.  Then it is up to us to unwrap the gift and discover it for ourselves.

How do we do that?  You can learn how by reading the post Ten Pillars of Lifestyle Design – #3 “Clarify Your Life Purpose”.

So, let me ask you, friend…Does your job feel like a gift – or is it more like a curse?  Do you find satisfaction and fulfillment in your life and work?  Are you at peace with who you are and what you do for a living?

If not – Do something about it!  Don’t waste another minute working a job that isn’t fulfilling.  Life is too short!  Keep reading, because the purpose of this Life Compass site is to help you achieve your dreams and find more freedom, purpose and fulfillment in your life and work!