Saturday, April 26, 2008

Being Constituted by Work

What if you realized that your work constitutes your being? If your daily work makes you who you are, how would you then work to create work that matters, the work that constitutes you?

In 1981 I read Pope John Paul's, Loborem Exercens, On Human Work, that really got me to thinking about the formation of who I am beyond the physical at work. I began thinking about the importance of doing work that matters. I had just entered college, but as I have always been interested in philosophy, ontology, the study of being in particular, the thesis therein caught my attention immediately. In fact, sense my early teens I had been thinking about how we come to be who we are.

Tom Peter's article, Brand You, in Fast Company in 1997 was also essential in my understanding of the importance of the formation of being through work beyond religious or philosophical meaning. His import, for me, is creating work that matters everyday aligned with being who you are. This aligning has a constitutional affect on the formation of being. The person affects the work and vice verse. It is forever being and becoming through creating work that matters. There is never stagnancy, only constant creation and innovation.

Brand You was directly applicable to business: being and business effortlessly coalesced as I so it. It was confirmation that my early youthful thoughts had foundation; they had meaning. Reading the article and enacting its principles was constitutional for the work that I did whether I was cleaning floors, managing others, or creating value for other companies. The formation of me extends to we, creating constiutional work that matters congruently.

As those who serve the public in ways that, in fact, allows them to influence our business in the sense that they determine whether our service or product has value, the important of doing work that matters becomes even more significant, if it is the work that we do that actually forms who we are. It is not whether the work is intellectual or manual, good or bad; there is no such thing. It is the importance of how work is done.

The significance of work is how the work itself is done to create work that matters which constitutes being, making us who we are. It is the value we give work that matters most for its constitutional property. It is not a matter of what, but a matter of how works forms being and purpose. It is we, ourselves, who create being through engaging in work that matters. Consider an excerpt from Pope John Paul's, Loborem Exercens, On Work:

"Through work man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very natures, by the virtue of of humanity itself.

Man is made to be in the visible universe and image of the likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work, Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work, Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence of earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very existence."

If work is thought of as that which constitutes your being, how would you work today? How can you serve others with excellence which is then reflected in the making of who you are? Work is also reflected in value, monetarily and relationally. How does your work affect your internal and external relationships? Does it add value? If work is what forms being, who do you wish to be?

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