“If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is a prominent figure in American history for his important role during the American Civil Rights Movement. Known for his peaceful protests and vivid public speaking, King was able to make a difference in the lives of all Americans.
In this week’s ‘Words of Wisdom Wednesday’ post, King talks about taking pride in the work you do. Sometimes it can be easy to write off our daily tasks as drudgery, but King implores us to take pride in everything we do. If we can not take pride in doing the dirty work to the best of our ability, how can we ever be trusted with more important tasks? No matter what task is in front of you, approaching your work with the mindset that you are going to do it better than it has ever been done will help to ensure you complete the task to the best of your ability.
I am reminded of the old Zen saying, “Chop wood, carry water.” This phrase, especially when placed in context, helps to illustrate that if you are going to cut wood, be the best wood cutter possible. If you are going to carry water, carry it to the best of your ability. Taking pride in doing the small things that compose your life will improve the overall quality of your existence. Don’t be afraid to take pride in doing the work other people view as menial, it is the menial work that lays the groundwork for great success.