How do you work?

“When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.”

“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

I’m leaving the position I’ve had the past 2 1/2 years for another job within the hospital. It’s bittersweet for me, because although I think this is the right move for me, given our plans to sell the house and eventually move away from Ketchikan, the reality is that hasn’t happened yet. I am leaving a great group of people who have become friends as well as co-workers, and I’ll miss them. But this move takes pressure off filling my position at short notice. The right person came along and we all agreed this was the thing to do.

It has made me think a bit about my work life. I’ve been fortunate to have a partner who does the heavy lifting when it comes to income. I’ve worked to pay for some extras, to cover kid camps and family gifts, the niceties of life. Oh, I pay for groceries and I cover car payments, but Rob has paid the big bills. So although I’ve worked very steadily, my positions have been job oriented rather than career focused. But that has also allowed me to be in some unique and enjoyable roles through my work life. I’ve done event planning for the Chamber of Commerce in Midland, MI; worked for a decade for a small map company in Evergreen, CO, that was eventually bought by National Geographic; spent the past five years here in Alaska in the field of healthcare administration, learning the world of hospitals, physicians, meetings, acronyms like alphabet soup; spent some time substitute teaching from kindergarten to high school; and even had a role in HR in one of my earlier jobs. I’ve had variety and I’ve always landed among good people that allowed me to try, to experiment, and to (mostly) succeed. Not bad for a liberal arts degree from long ago!

I like the quotes above because I think they speak to the fundamentals that make for a successful work life. The first one is pretty clear: get the job done. Alright, I’ll admit that sometimes laughter erupts during a meeting at work. That’s ok, even good. But the focus is on the job. Get work done at work and play time will take care of itself.

The second quote is really foundational to the way I’ve moved through my various job scenarios. Of course this philosophy only goes so far…you can’t bluff your way into doing surgery, or flying a plane, or many other things. But if you have basic skills and a can-do spirit, many doors will open to you. I’ve been so fortunate to work in environments that have stretched me, given me need and incentive to learn new software, new tools, new words, to reach beyond the knowledge I brought with me to the position of the moment. Each job I’ve had has given me unique perspective and abilities that I’ve then been able to use in later settings. Nothing is lost along the way if you make the most of the opportunities as they present themselves.

And in proper order, the best is the last: getting along with people is THE key to everything: personal life, work life, social life…each world is a part of our larger universe, and each world is filled with people. And some will make you laugh and just be glad you’re living. Others will make you crazy. Your job is to learn to navigate and to work with whoever is in your path. That’s what ultimately gives success. Success is measured in financial gain, but more importantly, it is measured in ways that can’t be measured. It’s the human touch, the encouragement you give, the smile you share.

If you work full time, you spend a lot of your life and your energy in that setting. Here’s hoping that you’ve found your own secret to success, and that you have a work philosophy that works for you.

Who knows what’s next for me? I’ll be here for a while yet, waiting on the sale of the house. But when I move on, I’ll take the skills I acquired here and the experience, add it to the rest of the knowledge I’ve accumulated, and be off to see what new life adventure is waiting for me. Chances are, I won’t be doing anything that requires a lot of math or conflict management. But whatever I’m doing, I expect to enjoy it, broaden myself a bit, and keep my people skills fresh.

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