Work is a central theme in not only my life, but that of many – we quickly spend half of our week working. The significance of work goes beyond the reward of a paycheck. Although work enables us to financially support our lives, it can also provide us meaning and fulfillment. How we like the way we spend our working hours is personal, and if we are proactive about what enlightens us, work can also serve our souls and spirits. Read on for 10 of my favorite quotes about work and loving your job.
Finding some pride
Nobody likes the feeling of not receiving appreciation from your boss, or the idea that you could easily be replaced by someone else. Since we all start at the bottom of the social ladder, I think a lot of people have more or less experienced this at some point in their working lives. While we may agree that the most repetitive and simple tasks “are just needed to be done,” no one likes to be dealt with in a demeaning way.
In Working you can read Studs Terkel talk to several people who struggle to find some pride in what they’re doing. An unhappy spot-welder shares with Terkel that he feels like “a machine” at work. In another interview, the unhappy bank teller goes to Terkel, “I’m caged”. Additionally, the frustrated steelworker considers himself as a self-proclaimed “mule”, and the unhappy receptionist says “a monkey can do what I do.” Another example is the migrant worker who shares with Terkel, “I’m less than a farm implement”. Finally, the unsatisfied high-fashion model feels to be considered as an “object”.
Needless to say, most of the people Terkel interviewed for his book are unsatisfied with their day-to-day job. The people dislike the way they are treated by their co-workers, clients or employers, and far from everyone has a job of their dreams. In short, they struggle to find some meaning and fulfillment in what they’re doing.
Something to point your finger to
In order to get some pride in what we are doing, we need something to point our finger to. According to an U.S. steelworker called Mike Lefevre, “it’s hard to take pride in a bridge you’re never gonna cross, in a door you’re never gonna open. You’re mass-producing things and you never see the end result of it.” Mike is one of the people journalist Studs Terkel interviews in the book. The steelworker mentions that “everybody should have something to point to.”
As Picasso can point his finger to a painting, so can a writer point his finger to a book. And a bricklayer can point to a building and go to his kid: “you know, daddy laid the bricks for that cathedral!” The same goes for firefighters who help save lives from burning buildings. Although the meaning of work is different to everyone, somehow we all want the hours that we put into something to mean something. Because we are human beings with universal desires and feelings, we all want to be seen and recognized by other people for the efforts we make.
Let me share 10 of my favorite quotes about work and with it means to us.
Quotes about work
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. – 1 Corinthians 3:13Tweet
You can’t eat for eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours a day-all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy. – William FaulknerTweet
“Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence.” – Fyodor DostoyevskyTweet
“Your job is not just to do what your parents say, what your teachers say, what society says, but to figure out what your heart calling is and be led by that.” – Oprah WinfreyTweet
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”Tweet
“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” – Steve JobsTweet
The “work ethic” holds that labor is good in itself; that a man or woman becomes a better person by virtue of the act of working. America’s competitive spirit, the “work ethic” of this people, is alive and well on Labor Day, 1971. – Richard M. Nixon.Tweet
I like my job and am good at it, but it sure grinds me down sometimes, and the last thing I need to take home is a headache. – TV commercial for Anacin.Tweet
Work is a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. – Studs Terkel, p.3 in Working.Tweet
“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.” – Katherine WhitehornTweet
Work is a topic that is always interesting to me because people from all walks of life have to deal with it in similar ways. I hope you enjoyed the quotes as much as I did. If you think I missed an important, inspirational quote, please let me know! In this section you can find more blog posts I wrote about the meaning of work. But you can also pick the ones below: