Work and the Greater Good

Peter Drucker, the famed managament guru of the 20th century, talked a lot about work and its effect on people. Most of the people/workers want to believe that their most valuable time and effort is worth something in the end.

From Ed B in a LinkedIn Answer:

Workers who feel they are contributing to some greater good and can “sense real progress toward meeting that greater good”, tend to value themselves more highly as workers and tend to perceive fewer barriers to getting the work done.

This feeling brings about satisfaction and leads to what Drucker called “work as achieving”.

While working in Deeshaa I had that distinct feeling that there was a great satisfaction in what I was doing. The entire exercise in sacrificing our personal money, time and effort to live in a city like Mumbai, commute for 3+hrs a day to achieve an almost impossible dream was well worth it.

A lot of young people I interacted during that time were trying to find some “meaningful” work. I did not have any answers then and nor do I have any now. What I did learn was in the end we all need to follow “a path with a heart”. In someways, I am still trying to recreate that magic.

One example of that is the story reported in the BBC about Drs Paul and Claudia Turner.

This time last year, they were both on the senior registrar rung – Paul in microbiology and Claudia in paediatrics – when they began to get itchy feet.

Fast-forward 12 months and that itch has been well and truly scratched.

Today, the couple are living on the Thai-Burmese border, working among a refugee population and on the verge of launching a cutting-edge study into pneumonia, under the auspices of the one of the world’s most prestigious tropical medicine research units.

“We were both disillusioned with the NHS, not just the structure but the users as well, and we wanted to work in an environment where we saw people who really needed medical care,” said Claudia.

“It sounds trite but we wanted to make a difference – and also to have a bit of adventure.”

The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) is located in the small town of Mae Sot, northwest Thailand.
[…]
“It’s unusual to be able to get involved in such fundamentally important research in the West, but in Asia there has been very little work done on many potentially treatable conditions, including childhood pneumonia.”
[…]
“It’s satisfying not only because this work has the potential to impact on a global scale, but because of the difference we’re making locally – the rewards are much more apparent and immediate than in the NHS.

When I left ADP Wilco for Deeshaa I sent a mail to my colleagues about my decision which contained a verse from “Notes to Myself” by Hugh Prather.

Those sentences still make a lot of sense.

I have always believed in the concept of ‘the Compass and the Clock’. The clock helps us to plan, organize time and space, initiate projects and see them through to completion. But the compass shows us the “True North”. The direction in life that we choose to take. And I am starting a new journey which takes me nearer to my “True North”.

“There is a part of me that wants to write
a part that wants to theorize, a part that
wants to sculpt, a part that wants to
reach…To force myself into a single
role, to decide to be just one thing in life,
would kill off large parts of me.

My career will form behind me. All I can
do is let this day come to me in peace. All
I can do is take the step before me now,
and not fear repeating an effort or making
a new one.”

P.N : The verse “There is a part of me…” has been taken from the book ‘Notes to Myself’ by Hugh Prather.

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