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Meaning At Work

There is an element of the mundane in every job. Consider the cabin crew who work on long-haul flights. The majority of their work is the repetitive, and strenuous task of wheeling trolleys full of food and drink down narrow aircraft aisles while repeating the same script, ‘chicken or beef’, to the three hundred passengers on board. Many people who choose these roles do so because they tell themselves a story about travel perks and seeing the world. It’s unlikely that they spend much time thinking about how boring handing out bottled water, blankets and sick bags will become. The day-to-day reality of this work could provide an ideal environment for breeding discontent and misery.

If that’s so, why do some people thrive in these jobs, while others become disillusioned? It’s likely that the difference between the people who find joy in the work and those who don’t, have found a way to feel like they’re making a difference. The joyful cabin crew find ways to bring more of who they are to their role. They look for opportunities to gain fulfilment from what they say and do at times when they can go ‘off script’. Like the cabin crew on a recent BA flight who tried to help me make my tight connection (I didn’t), by moving me to the front of the aircraft to disembark. And the stewardess who found me a pair of airline pyjamas to change into just in case I missed the flight and got stuck in the airport (I did), or the hostess in the airline lounge who made me dinner, even though everything had been cleaned and packed away for the night.

It isn’t only our clients and customers who benefit when we bring more humanity to work. The more meaning we can find in our work by being who we are, the more we stand to gain.

Image by Austrian Airlines

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