Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Nature of Work

I have been thinking about the nature of work and -- more specifically -- the nature of my work versus that of my forebears. My work consists of three basic activities: Talking, thinking/creating, and recording my thoughts (mostly in writing).

Contrast that with the work of my progenitors. I only have to skip one generation to find a far different type of work. One of my grandfathers ran a grain warehouse. His job was more than managing employees and keeping records; it involved a fair mix of manual labor, too. At home, he had a good-sized garden, kept chickens, and had at least one milk cow. He was no different from nearly everyone he knew; regardless of their day job, their second job was usually feeding their family. And only a generation or two ahead of him, their was no warehouse or man to run it; there were only frontiersmen taming the prairies and fighting nature.

Fathers trained their sons to manage the plow, steady the reins, trim the horses feet, gather the wheat and even to read the weather. They had coaches, didn't they? Though some were undoubtedly more effective than others.

Women were brought along the same way. My grandma learned to cook at the wood stove of her mother. She learned to darn socks and tend young plants. At her mama's knee she also learned to milk cows, butcher chickens, build a fire and scare off wildlife. Her cooking became her livelihood on several occasions and she was coached and trained all along the way.

Things have changed a lot in a couple of generations. We live in a culture where the vast majority of work is not done with our hands, it's done with our heads and -- if we're lucky -- with our hearts. Humankind has been creating results with dexterous limbs and ingenuity since the beginning of time. But never have so many humans spent so much of their time thinking and creating. Indeed, you might say it's a developing skill set. In addition, what we are learning about the human brain is, well, mind boggling! (That will be the topic of some future posts).

Here's where coaching and training come in; coaching and training are directed toward increasing creativity and decreasing stress responses. You, a human, are then able to act thoughtfully more often and instinctively less often. And the net result is that you get more of what you want in your life more of the time. Ahhhhh.

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