Pride in what you do leads to Zen?
I came across a music video on YouTube by Vargo which featured some lyrics by my fav spiritual author, Dan Millman. In the song, Warrior, a few of Millman’s comments were woven into the song. One of them I really loved was the one about the man on the Japanese rail line who’s job it was to clean the platforms. Millman says that as he polished the railing, this individual took great pride in how clean he made everything. Here’s a link to the video, the lyrics are great and although I’m not a huge fan of German techno pop I really got into this because of the message:
Millman says that this man looked like a Zen master as he had such focus and pride about what he did that it didn’t make a difference about status. According to Millman this man was no less than an author, teacher, doctor or anyone. This story reminded me of when I was in Nara and stopped into a McDonald’s. Out of curiosity I really wanted to know how an American restaurant would translate into Japanese life. What stood out was that the 16 year old kid behind the counter was very prideful in his work at McDonald’s. He had a strong posture, spoke well and was very respectful. But the way he acted made me want to respect him!
This gets me to thinking about self perception. In America there are certainly prestige levels associated with different lines of work, different communities, even different cars we drive. Reflecting back on my career there are jobs that I felt proud of but I’m not sure I ever felt like that 16 year old Japanese kid. I realize that this is because of my perception. I didn’t have the level of pride that he did. I didn’t polish the railing like the platform cleaner did. Sure I held standards but I never worked like that before. Actually I did when I covered for the director of the Career Transition Center. She was out on leave for a month so I filled in and I really liked what I did. I took great pride in being able to do what I did. That taught me something.
I realize I can put my best into anything I do. My sense of pride comes from me alone, not what some group of people tries to associate a level of prestige. If I keep in touch with myself in how I feel, rather than how others will try to make me feel then I will stay balanced. I will also stay in control of my life more! Think about how wonderful it would be to maintain control of your life without others dictating! It is sweet let me tell you, and a wonderful lesson in Zen for me.
So if you’re going to do something, do it only the way you can. Put yourself into it, pour your heart into it. When you do you will do much better, and only the job that you can do. No one else will be able to match. So, are you ready to be great at what you do?