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A Thanksgiving Story For Meaningful Work

I hope everyone has had a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving. With all that’s going on in the world, this year’s holiday has been a time for me to reflect on all that I’m thankful for in my life. And perhaps just as importantly, to appreciate the hope and potential that each day brings.

In my readings in business anthropology, I found this story which really speaks to how we create our own sense of thanksgiving each day in our work. The key is in our approach:

In one training exercise, new employees are sent into a small village dressed in plain white uniforms and are required to go door-to-door asking residents for simple household chores that they may do without pay. The trainees must do this alone and may not return to the training facility until they succeed in finding work. The exercise is not as simple as it may appear because doing a favor for someone in Japan creates an obligation, meaning that strangers are not eager to accept gratuities. After being refused several times, the young trainees usually find that they are happy to do whatever work they are offered, no matter how menial or onerous. This experience is meant to teach them that it is not the nature of the work that determines one’s attitude toward work, but rather one’s attitude that determines the way in which the nature of work is perceived. (emphasis added)

Marietta L. Baba, Anthropological Practice in Business and Industry (2005)

What are you doing to extend the feeling of thanksgiving into your daily work?

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