A few years ago I created a career portfolio summary document. I did this to have an accompanying set of information for my resume to highlight my accomplishments and to give writing samples. One of the sections in it is my work philosophy. Essentially, it’s a statement of how I define work and service in life. I read through it over the weekend and was surprised at how little I wanted to change. Maybe this is a good for me as it showed consistency of purpose and thought over a few years. Here’s how it reads now. Let me know your thoughts.
I define work as a product or service that I create to satisfy a need. Solving a need gives purpose to the work effort, and it provides value to both parties involved. The work I produce provides a look into the core attributes that define me. My work is like a letter with my signature. Just as I want the recipient of the letter to know I wrote it, I also want the recipient of my work to understand that I completed this product or service for them.
I believe the best work is produced by those with a strong desire to succeed and who enjoy their trade. These are the people who have little pride and will not admit they are an expert in any given field. Instead of solely relying on their knowledge and skills, they will go an extra step to make sure their work is exemplary. These are the students who study the extra hour because they need to make sure they understand the material. These are the programmers that test their own code first, to catch any mistakes. These are the service personnel that smile and say thank-you for being my customer even when they are having a bad day. These are the teachers that prepare visual displays of their materials instead of relying solely upon a text book.
There is an element of good work that requires discipline, planning, and thoroughness. However, there are other elements of work that require creativity. Creativity comes through regular reflection, thought of new ideas, attitudes, and circumstances. While rigid structure and processes have their place to promote consistency and to satisfy regulatory rules, I must be free to express myself and debate new ideas. Without discussion of new ideas, my work becomes predictable and habitual. If my work output becomes routine, it loses both quality and creativity.
My work is also built upon my service to family and community. Life is ultimately built upon relationships. When I reach the end of my life, I will be more remembered for the difference I made for other people rather than things I created. With this in mind, I must remember that it is important to achieve a proper balance between producing products and services for profit and serving others outside of my primary job.