“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” -JFK
Maybe you’ve heard this story before.
During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
The janitor got it.
He understood that his work was part of a larger picture. Something bigger than himself. Something important. Something worthy of his best effort.
He had a purpose.
The Purpose of Work
I don’t know what your organization does. I don’t know your organization’s mission, vision, or values.
But I would submit this idea for your consideration: I do know what your purpose is.
Because the purpose of our work is all the same when it comes down to it.
The greater purpose of our work is to serve others.
Whatever industry you’re in, whatever you make, you do it because it is going to benefit someone else.
If you make food products, you’re feeding the world.
If you make power products, you’re powering the world.
If you make safety equipment, you’re protecting the world.
Whether you’re the janitor or the CEO, you are engaged in a purpose greater than yourself doing work that is important.
That brings me to a second idea for your consideration: How we do our work matters.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely in the OHS profession. This is where it gets exciting.
A Call to Adventure
How we do work matters.
To fully understand why, let’s explore the virtue of diligence.
Today, diligence has a lot to do with discipline and a sort of stoic approach to consistently doing your homework. The paired vice/deadly sin, today, is sloth, which we think of as laziness.
The original vice wasn’t sloth, but sadness.
And the big idea behind diligence and sadness was this: Every person is born with certain gifts, or abilities, and these gifts are intended for the service of the world and other people. To the extent that a person applies themselves to their gifts, they will experience a rich and full life.
To the extent that they abdicate those gifts and the invitation to life inherent in those gifts, the person will experience a small, sad life.
In other words, what brings people contentment and joy is understanding their purpose and spending their lives fulfilling it.
I believe as OHS professionals, it is part of our role to help the people in our care embrace the greater purpose and help them fulfill it by doing their very best work.
Through that lens, ergonomics and injury prevention (and OHS as a whole) has a lot to do with the virtue of diligence. Everyone deserves a chance to do their best work and we get to help them engage their gifts and abilities in a way that helps them experience a more rich and full life.
At Ergonomics Plus, we take a “Total Musculoskeletal Health” approach to our practice. The “total” approach has four parts: Protect. Promote. Prevent. Perform.
Through these four areas of focus, we help employees and organizations do better work in service of their greater purpose.
Optimize the work environment to match the capabilities and limitations of people through the art and science of ergonomics.
Deliver preventive healthcare upstream to promote musculoskeletal health where it delivers better outcomes and the highest value on your investment.
Shift the focus from treatment to prevention, turning musculoskeletal health from a cost center to a profit center.
Unlock human potential by giving people the opportunity to do their best work.
We often find that, over time, these areas of focus not only help the organizations we serve do better work but also have a profound impact on organizational culture as a whole.
Move Your Workplace Forward
Should you choose this path, you might find that work takes on a deeper meaning — a passion that makes a significant difference in your life even as it also enriches the lives of your associates. This is how change happens. How culture is shaped. It’s how you can move the workplace forward — one workstation and one person at a time.
A little sentimental and corny? Maybe. The good news is that this approach has also saved millions of dollars for our clients. It can make your work more rewarding too.