The Japanese may be known for their discipline and delectable cuisine but what really stands out is the honor they put in their work. As my family and I were riding the train to Kyoto back in 2013, my dad pointed out how the train conductor would bow whenever he enters and exits each car, even if there were barely any passengers, let alone people that even noticed his seemingly menial yet dignified action. Even in the recently concluded FIBA Asia Championship, keen observers would notice Japanese players bowing during substitutions.
Though some see sports from a recreational perspective, many athletes consider their sport as work. Their lifestyles center around the games they love to play, with their diet and more importantly, their schedules based on their games. “Ball is life” may be something we use to describe our love for a sport but for professional athletes, that statement is more than an affirmation for the love of the game. The summit of an athlete’s career is winning a championship, and achieving that is a testament to the effort they put in.
Inc.com came out with hiring statistics earlier this year and the results showed that Millenials would rather do a job they love for a lower salary than working in a field they aren’t so interested in despite the higher pay. On the surface, it shows that most of our generation prefers to pursue their passion, meaning they hold “doing what you love” in higher regard than chasing the money. To some extent, this is how we value our work; we want to be not just in a position to contribute but also in a career that helps them pursue their passion while at same time, contributing to society.
However, putting dignity in your work does not necessarily mean you have to actually love your work; doing it well and with the right disposition is also important. Unfortunately we may not always get the job that we want but that should not stop us from doing the tasks that come with it properly. Some people see their current jobs as “stepping stones”, meaning they are aiming for a bigger and better career in the long run. For them move up the ranks or set themselves up for a better job, they have to do well in their current positions.
The unfortunate thing about this is that many look down at other jobs they deem inferior when in fact these seemingly menial jobs are the ones that let us do our own jobs. In the workplace, it isn’t just the CEOs and the other top officers who run the show. Their executive assistants are the “glue guys”, the ones that remember all the meetings, schedules, and other little yet important details that help keep the ship upright. Without them, their bosses might even forget that their next meeting started five minutes ago.
From a college student’s perspective, the university is the stepping stone and we often take this stage for granted. Students grind through accounting, economic theories, and even PERSEF classes wondering if they would ever apply their knowledge on Debit, Credit, and Supply & Demand.
Once we step into the real world however, we see how it isn’t so much the sciences or the humanities that will help us when we move on to our jobs; our work ethic in our college and perhaps even high school years will more often than not translate to how we will do our tasks at work. If you think about it, excellence isn’t a trait; it’s a habit of doing things not just with passion but in the right way.
Nothing defines a person’s character more than how they value their work. Usually the activities associated with work involve manual labor or staying in an office for eight hours staring at a computer. Merriam-Webster however, defines work as an “activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something”. Perhaps in its most literal sense, work involves even the many things we take for granted as students, given that we all exert effort in trying to accomplish our homework and studying for exams.
At the end of the day, valuing work entails respect. This respect isn’t limited to authority or law; the tasks and the people around you matter as well. Respecting your work means doing it well, following the agreed deadlines, and most importantly doing it ethically. Giving respect to those around us should be a given but to put it into another perspective, those around us might be doing the jobs we don’t want to do, and we ought to be thankful for their help.