A Deeper Look at Great Work
Discovering what makes work great—and what makes people great at work—requires observation.

 When we take time to look, our occupations may reveal hidden depths.

Great Work Is Smarter, Not Harder
When my husband Stephen was hired by a major metropolitan school district’s budget office, he was excited about the job. The hours were good and the benefits were generous. It seemed the perfect fit until budget “crunch time.”

He quickly discovered that the department head’s approach to this daunting annual project was “work harder and longer.”

This was not Stephen’s way of doing anything. He was a systems thinker—always on the lookout for creative solutions to streamline processes. And he was good at it.

The challenge was that innovation demands change, and his supervisor had been using the same non-systematic methods for almost 30 years. She was nearing retirement and had no intention of altering her style.

So, in his own quiet manner, Stephen simplified his part of the budgeting process, got his work done (impeccably) and went home on time. He also quickly applied for a transfer to a department that appreciated his expertise and that did not demand that his work interfere with the quality of his life.

Here is Stephen’s philosophy about smarter, not harder:

Work as hard as necessary to get the job done well.

Relish your accomplishments.

End each day feeling well spent.

Cherish the fact that doing great work flows in, through and around the goal of experiencing life as fulfilling, meaningful and joyful.

Karma and Dharma in Work & Life
Each of us is born into this life with talents, opportunities and obligations known as karma—the necessity to serve life to balance wrongs we have committed in the past.

We also have a dharma or sacred labor. For some, that labor may be obvious, as with the woman who has dedicated her life to the nurturing and education of children. She and her husband raised four beautiful children who are now birthing their own families. For years she has run a successful Montessori school whose teachers and students exude the joy she brings to and receives from her work.

For others, dharma may take the form of transferable skills that run through a career spanning many industries.

In all cases, engaging fully in the tasks before you is key to making good decisions about what work to pursue at any given point in life for the fulfillment of both dharma and karma.

A Word About Commissions
Have you ever been engaged in a project that had a deeper meaning to you than a simple job assignment?

Did it have that “felt sense” of being inspired by a higher power? Did you approach it with greater care or respect than other tasks? This is the nature of a commission.

Many commissions feel like a promise made—more like a vow than a job assignment. Such tasks often possess the character of a holy obligation, and may or may not appear to directly relate to your dharma.

Oftentimes, only after their completion will their purpose be revealed. Proceeding in faith and a sense of a higher calling unlocks the true meaning of the commission—though sometimes not until the work is done.

A commission is subtle in the way it pervades every aspect of your life while you’re working on it. And it is uncannily powerful because it transcends all desires less than its own fulfillment.

From this perspective, a commission is a true labor of love—a sacred activity that enhances the worker as well as the company or family in which the commission is performed.

Learn More

A New Kind of Worker
Doing Great Work in Any Occupation
Work as an Indicator of Life
Great Work Is Joyful Work
Complete list of Doing Great Work articles


Copyright © 2017 Cheryl Eckl and CherylEckl.com. All rights reserved.

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