I read something profoundly simple in a passage from a book earlier today. In it, was the story of the bricklayers.
There is an old story about three bricklayers. One day, a curious child approaches the bricklayers to see what they are doing. When the child reaches the first bricklayer and asks,“What are you doing?,” the bricklayer groans, spits, and wipes his brow as he glances up from his work and says with a grunt, “I’m layin’ brick, what does it look like, kid!” The child says, “Oh,” and moves on to the next bricklayer. When the child asks the second bricklayer about what he is doing,the bricklayer moans and says with a downcast sigh, “I’m earning a living.” The child thanks him and moves on to the third bricklayer. The third bricklayer springs up with a sparkle in his eye and excitement in his voice and says, “I’m building a cathedral!” As the child listens, the bricklayer goes on, with great enthusiasm, to describe the vision that he is apart of.
How many of us can actually raise a hand up sincerely and say that we are building a cathedral? It’s a tough world out there. Many of us, do actually fall into one of the three categories of bricklayers mentioned. Sometimes, our purpose as a bricklayer may be muddled up as the demands of provisions, expectations and aspirations get mixed up into one big job.
When I first started out my career in financial planning, it was purely on the basis of monetary rewards, cause my “cathedral” was actually the hope of being an established self empowerment speaker. I wanted the money to be a capital for me to start on the adventure, of setting up my own company. For a while, it made sense. Be in a career line that allowed me to earn quick buck, and then establish myself.
As time passed by however, I grew into my career. It became a job of some sort. As years went by, I forgot about my dreams. It entailed me to work, because I needed to provide for myself and my small family. My “cathedral” never got passed its foundations.
People sometimes mistake their effort as worthy, just because someone tells them it is. A principal may say to an educator, that his “bricklaying” (teaching) is actually laying the foundation of a generation’s future. A sales manager may say to a consultant, that his “bricklaying” (selling) is actually changing the financial future of an individual. These old age wisdoms might be half truths.
Cause think about it. How many of us cans sincerely put our palm to our beating heart and proclaim to the world, that we are indeed building our “cathedral”? How many of us can actually lay claim to the fact that our mundane and insignificant effort every single day, is a process, meant to build a “cathedral” for ourselves, for the admiration of future generations.
But this story illustrated to me a simple point. We have a choice actually, to start seeing our efforts, to be a part of something greater. The third bricklayer definitely saw the end vision of his efforts. He saw himself as the bricklayer who build the greatest cathedral, everyone in the future, will admire and be proud of. It brings joy and enthusiasm.
So maybe, you and I can really start defining our “cathedrals” and quit giving pointless run off the mill answers such as,
- I’m changing the world
- I’m making a difference in the community
- I’m helping my community
- I’m helping create a better financial future
Maybe we can start by being specific. Rather than stating that we are laying bricks for a building. What kind of building?