Your Job Matters

I often think about the significance of my job in the big picture. I wonder how important what I do is to the greater good of society. I question if I’m in the right position to contribute to the best of my ability or if I should be doing something that allows me to more directly see results.

You are not here merely to make a living ... You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. — Woodrow Wilson

 

I often think about the significance of my job in the big picture. I wonder how important what I do is to the greater good of society. I question if I’m in the right position to contribute to the best of my ability or if I should be doing something that allows me to more directly see results.

I have a number of friends who work in healthcare—nurses who work with patients every day and usually get to see their conditions improve as a direct result of my friends’ assistance. At the very least, healthcare professionals are usually able to comfort their patients as they deal with pain and suffering. I am also friends with several firefighters. These emergency personnel deal with health crises each day on the job, too, as well as often putting their lives on the line while fighting fires. These individuals clearly have important jobs. It must be rewarding for them to know that they have worked hard and trained so that they can help others.

Another friend of mine is in the Louisiana Air National Guard. I have the utmost respect for our military personnel and am forever grateful for what they do to keep our country safe. When I expressed my gratitude to her for her service, she made it clear that she feels it is her honor to serve, but downplayed the significance of her role. She appreciates that I recognize her contributions and sacrifices, but says she sometimes gets negative comments that she’s “only” in the National Guard (as if she’s somehow less important because her role is primarily to look after the homeland and she’s less likely to be deployed overseas or in combat regions). This conversation made me sad because the importance of any military position should never be sold short.

When I look at professions such as these that clearly serve others, it’s sometimes hard for me to see the significance of my own job. It helps to examine the general contributions of manufacturing to better understand how I fit into this picture.

Much of what made this country great has emerged from its manufacturing and technological capabilities. These skills are demonstrated every day in shops across the U.S., as parts are made more quickly and with higher precision than ever. And the parts that these shops are producing go into things that people need. Some of these parts may be considered more significant than others, but without them, we wouldn’t enjoy the conveniences that we now have.

One shop I recently talked to is a great example of a company that has benefited from the continuous technological advances in manufacturing and serves our society well by producing large quantities of medical and dental components (as well as aerospace and general industry parts). An important consideration for a medical shop such as Pacific Precision (La Verne, California) is the recognition of the requirement for quality in the parts it makes. In this case, the company has built into its training process specific steps to ensure that employees understand that the majority of parts being produced will eventually be in a person’s body and there is no margin for error. The company even requires each employee to sign an awareness statement acknowledging this fact. Go to page 38 for more information about how this shop is finding success in the production of medical parts.

Because of the nature of the parts they make, employees at Pacific Precision, in many ways, fall into a similar category as professionals in such positions as health care, emergency response and military. They know exactly how their products are contributing to making someone’s life better. Many other shops can enjoy this same benefit from the parts they make. Others might make less vital parts or may not have any idea how their parts are being used down the road. But this shouldn’t diminish their job satisfaction. What is important is that people are contributing an honest effort to provide products or services that others desire.

In this spirit, I can take pride in my own work, knowing that the information I gather and share from various sources regarding new technology and creative processes is being put to good use.