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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

Finding Fulfillment at Work

Theodore Roosevelt said this about work: “The best prize life offers is

the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” I don’t agree with him

entirely. I think that dynamic relationships are probably the best that

life has to offer, and I suspect that having children and grandchildren

probably rank somewhere near the top of the list also. But I do agree

that one of the best things in this life is the chance to work hard at

something that is actually worth doing.

When I reminisce about my time in high school and the friends

I made during those years, I am always amazed at how so few people

end up doing what they thought they would do when they were

in high school. Most people seem to find their way, but very few do

exactly what they imagined they would do when they were in high


If you had told me while I was in high school that I would become

a successful author and speaker, the idea would have seemed nothing

more than absurd to me. Luke, one of my best friends from high

school, often reminds me of an incident that took place in my English

class during my senior year. Our teacher, Mrs. Grace, was handing

back our latest papers, reflections on The Heart of Darkness, I believe.

For some reason, I was never able to find my way into the good graces

of that teacher. I had tried hard in the class, and for the first time in

my life I was struggling—hopelessly, it seemed—to get a good grade.

Nothing I did was ever good enough in that class. Mrs. Grace walked

around the classroom handing out papers. She dropped mine on my

desk, and I discovered that she had awarded me a grade of one out of

a possible twenty. This seemed like the final straw. Surely putting your

name on the paper and demonstrating that you had actually read the

book, both of which I had done, was worthy of at least five, maybe

even six. But no, apparently not. Luke reminds me that I screwed the

paper up into a ball and threw it over my teacher’s head and into the

trash can in the corner of the classroom. My classmates roared. Yes, if

you had told me in high school that I would become a writer, I would

have just laughed.

Today I spend my life speaking and writing. What an enormous

privilege! I never lose sight of that. I am constantly in awe of the life I

am living. Day after day, people seek me out to ask my counsel on any

number of issues, but after relationships, the most common struggle

in people’s lives today is with their work. They don’t feel appreciated.

They don’t feel that they are living in their genius. They feel that they

are wasting their lives and that they could be doing so much more.

They feel that their creativity is not being tapped, and they yearn to

make a more meaningful contribution. The world is full of people

who are miserable at work.

I love speaking and I love writing. The speaking comes much

more naturally to me than the writing, but I love both, and they seem

to feed off of each other in a rather dynamic way. Is everything about

my work life perfect? Of course it isn’t. There are a lot of hotels and

airports, it’s always a hassle to find a good meal, something or someone

is always running late, and the glamour of travel wears off very

quickly. There are a lot of wake-up calls at 3:30 a.m., and on those

days it often takes me a little longer to grow into an attitude of gratitude

about my life. A couple of weeks ago, I was at home and had

decided to sleep in a little. I was lying there in bed semiconscious,

and the phone rang. I picked it up, said, “Thank you,” and hung up. A

minute or so later, the phone rang again. My mother said, “Why did

you hang up on me?” I had forgotten I was at home and thought her

first call was my wake-up call.

But I love my life and I would never trade it for anyone else’s. I

have found something I am passionate about. I get to do what I love,

and for that I am so grateful. I never wake up and think, Oh, I have to

go to work today! In fact, I very rarely think of what I do as work, but

I suspect that the people who surround me would probably tell you

that I work harder than anyone they know.

We all spend too much time working not to be able to experience

a deep sense of satisfaction from our work. Fulfillment at work and

enduring happiness are inseparably linked.

The words of Lin Yu-t’ang, a writer, translator, and editor, lend a

powerful perspective to our reflection at this point:

So much unhappiness, it seems to me, is due to nerves; and bad nerves

are the result of having nothing to do, or doing a thing badly, unsuccessfully,

or incompetently. Of all the unhappy people in the world,

the unhappiest are those who have not found something they want to

do. True happiness comes to him who does his work well, followed by

a relaxing and refreshing period of rest. True happiness comes from

the right amount of work for the day.

Let us endeavor to find the right work and then seek to do the right

amount of that work each day. With all things, let’s turn to God and

ask him to lead us to the work he created us to do, the work that will

grow us in the ways he wants us to grow. Prayer in all things. It is so

easy to set God and his help aside, and it is always a mistake.

Matthew Kelly

From Perfectly Yourself

Click Here to get your copy

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