A few days ago I saw a post from a writer I follow named Jeff Goins on why we need to do work we love to do rather than just work. While Jeff's comments are a little different from some I have made in past blog posts, it is closely related and works well in conjunction with what I have lived my life with. For most of my life my grandfather, Daddy Byrd, worked as the maintenance man at the church he and my grandmother attended. My sister and I both were christened there before my parents began to attend a different church in which I grew up. Over the course of his life Daddy Byrd had held many jobs, but the only one he ever admitted he was good at was stump removal. His father had run multiple saw mills all across Southern Mississippi, and his job was to remove the stumps after the trees had been cut and sent to the saw mill. I asked him how he did it once. Daddy Byrd said that you had to drill a hole at the base of the stump, then you put in dynamite. After you ran the line back far enough it was easy to blow it up and get the stump out. I asked him how much dynamite to put in and he said, "That was the trick."
He and his best friend Mr. Gautier had run a wharf selling gas, ice, boats and motors for years. They were wiped out by hurricanes more than once. Despite all the experience he had at running the wharf, he still only considered himself good at removing tree stumps. None of his seven children or (even I can't count them) grand children who knew him would say anything other than that he was an expert at raising a family. One thing he did in raising that family was impart some wisdom on various subjects, but today the topic is what we do for a living.
Daddy Byrd always said that if you didn't like what you were doing it was time for a new job. Looking at his "jack of all trades" working career it was easy to tell he followed his own advice. I have had many different jobs, and worked at many different places. Some I hated from the start, some I hated near the end, a few I grew to hate but had no choice but to endure until I could get out. But, there was always another job at another place, and the work made me happy. My wife has always told me that I am the luckiest man in the world. I agree with her as I have her, but she refers to the fact that I go to work and come home (almost) every day with a smile on my face.
As an engineer, the majority of my career has been spent in the world of design and plan production. There was client interaction, some construction oversight, and for the most part all the site visits I wanted. I shifted into municipal engineering as a City Engineer for the 22nd largest city in Alabama for a while before finally landing my dream job with the Corps of Engineers. That job is sending me to a new location starting next week, but my family will be remaining for a time where we live. While the job is not exactly the answer to a prayer, it is a spot where that prayer can be answered. This will be a test of just how much I love my job because no matter how much I love what I do for a living, I love my life with my family more.
Do you get to do what you love for a living? Does it allow your creative side to prosper?