The buried treasure of doing work you love

Honor.

I came across this powerful little word just recently while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. A photographer who recently photographed a wedding used the word ‘honor’ in her photo caption. If I recall, her words were, “it was such an honor to capture their special day”.  I locked in on this word, honor, because something about the way she used it caught my attention. Her use of the word ‘honor’ caused me to imagine how it must have felt for her to do the work she did for her clients in capturing their wedding day. I’ve had my play in the photography world for a time so I do know what a tremendous honor it is to be chosen by your clients and valued for your talents.  However, I will venture to say, that the honor this photographer felt in doing this work for her wedding clients didn’t just come from being chosen for her talentedly-made photographs. I believe the honor she felt was more than that. I believe the honor she felt came from knowing that her work would be connected to a milestone, a life changing celebratory event between two people coming together to become life partners. I mean wow! That is huge. I bet it meant the world to this photographer to be able to serve another person through her passion while doing work that she loves.

This simple Facebook post made me think about how we use the word ‘honor’ when it comes to the work we do. There is a certain element of selflessness when we can take ourselves completely out of it and allow our passion to flow through us in a way that contributes to some larger purpose beyond ourselves. This is pure giving and serving others in a way that is devoid of any ego. When you are not in it for any recognition or self-gratification but purely because you believe in what you do and are happy to do it. The type of work doesn’t matter. We can be serving burgers at McDonalds and feel a tremendous sense of honor just by handing over a happy meal toy to an eager child. To know that our work has helped to make someone’s life even the tiniest bit better fulfills us and can be wonderfully humbling.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi

When we talk about doing work that we are truly honored to do it is usually tied to some form of service. You can see that from any helping profession. When we hear a soldier say, “it’s my honor to serve this country”, most of us can only imagine that level of honor to do something you love so much that you would give your life for it. When we hear our favorite speaker come to the stage and the first thing out of her mouth is, “it’s an honor to be here”. This comes from the pure joy and love of doing something that you deeply believe in. The gift of sharing it with someone else is also a gift to you.

Honor is embedded into the very fabric of doing work that we love particularly when we are in service to another. We are desperately searching for ways to make a difference in this world. We want our work to have meaning and make a positive impact in the world. This is why many of us go in to giving professions or why we are called to doing mission-focused work. We are all hardwired to give and serve others. When we are misaligned with this desire, there is no denying it and the disconnect tugs at our heartstrings until we can make it right.

The biggest honor comes to us when we are doing our right work. We almost never make ‘sense of honor’ a pre-requisite when considering a job or career path. Can you imagine if we lived in a world where every worker from the support staff to the CEO felt great honor to serve the mission of the company because they truly believed in it? It would change the conversations we have with each other where we are no longer complaining about our jobs but telling stories of how we helped and served others. It would change our attitudes from having just a job to having a sense of purpose. And certainly it would change how you see yourself now as a person with a unique role that only you can fill. A person who through passion and fulfilling work serves the needs of another and takes great honor in doing so.

Be that person.

When have you felt the most honor in your career? What were the circumstances? What were you doing? Who were you serving? How did it feel? Tell me about it in the comments!