If I Enjoy My Work
Chinese New Year came and went. I love the Lunar New Year. It is about reunion, joyful giving and receiving, abundance (of food and good time), and goodwill.
Our team capped the celebrations with the yearly open house at leaders James’ and Jackie’s place. There was the usual spread of home-cooked dishes to warm our hearts and stomachs – porridge chock-full of goodness, beehoon, beef stew, otah otah bursting with fish meat, a rich vegetable curry… there was satay, freshly grilled for our eating pleasure – juicy, tender, and delicious.
Then the prancing lions came to delight us with their acrobatics, and to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. This was another tradition we have all come to look forward to and cherish.
Each year, the lions throw chocolate gold coins, oranges, and the big-headed (da tou) doll plays with everyone. It is hip-roaring fun. This ritual ends in a burst of colour as they pop shimmering streamers over us all, a symbol of joy and prosperity, I guess.
Yet, of all the colourful activities that evening, the one image etched in my mind is of Lucius and Max (7 and 5 years old) sweeping up all these streamers which ‘littered’ the porch after the lions had left. It all began because Uncle James had remarked that he would request for the lions not to pop these streamers next year as it was extremely hard work to sweep up afterwards. “What? But that’s so fun,” I protested.
Just at that moment, the two most helpful little boys I know, bounded into sight – Lucius and Max! These two boys took it upon themselves to help Uncle James carry chairs down to the storeroom every month after our gathering.
So, I asked if they would like to help Uncle James to sweep up the porch. Without hesitation, they set about their work.
They armed themselves with brooms and dustpans and tackled the entire front porch, which was quite a large area. They were tireless and cheerful as they went about it – all smiles, high energy, as though this was a game, not a chore.
They were thorough, going for every bit of streamer which littered the place. At least one other kid got inspired to join them in sweeping the floor. Lucius and Max took about 30 minutes to clean up the place. I thought they would ‘play’ at this task and give up after a while, but they doggedly kept at it as though it was a compelling mission, which I suspect it was!
Lucius and Max never wavered because they began with the end in mind. They wanted to help Uncle James clean up the porch so that, next year, the lions would come and play and ‘mess up’ the place again. A clear goal and sense of mission really helped them carry on.
I think what gave them a kick was that they genuinely like being helpful. They also liked Uncle James and wanted to help him. It reminds me that one of the reasons why people do MLM is because they like helping others. They get so much satisfaction out of contributing to people that they don’t stop to count the price they pay.
Adults cheering them on made a difference too, I am sure. Many aunties and uncles acknowledged them, praised them, and encouraged them. Each time that happened, I noticed their energy rise and off they scurried to find more stuff to sweep up!
I know that adults react in the same way too. When people are cheering me on, patting me on the back, telling me that I am doing a great job, I really perk up and feel like I have every reason to carry on. On the flip side, if we had criticised the boys for being too slow, not thorough, or made fun of them, I am sure they would have thrown in their brooms and dustpans.
They also had each other as buddies. I am certain the great cleanup wouldn’t have happened if there was just one lone kid looking at the dirt. With a buddy, just another pair of hands, the work became a game! The value and magic of having a buddy.
Somehow, these boys do not have the idea that sweeping is tedium. Physical work and play have no separation in their world at this stage of their lives. Sweeping can be play if they so decide it is fun. And the way they went about it was fun! Wasn’t it Confucius who said: “If I enjoy my work, I don’t have to work another day”?
What if I decide that my work is fun? What if I see networking–prospecting and inviting, presenting, and closing as fun? How would that change my workday? On the flip side, I am reminded that if I am not having fun, I am not doing it right.
I recognised so many leadership truths before as I sat on the steps of the porch and watched those two boys at ‘work’. From the mouth of babes and the actions of little children, I can really learn much.