Owning your job: A forgotten truth for job security

In terms of job security, there is nothing of more visible and immediate benefit you can give your employer than to serve with authoritative ownership of your position.

by Bradley Falk — 

In these persistently difficult financial times, would you believe there is a forgotten truth that could heal the damage, both to our economies and to the souls who propel our economic engines? What forgotten truth could carry that kind of magical horsepower? Like all truths, it must first be observed, then chewed on and finally absorbed. So, I bring to you a parable.

Please travel back with me to a village 200 years ago. Populated with approximately 500 people or about 125 households, our village has a single baker who meets the baking needs of all 500 people, 365 days a year. Very few villagers do any baking at home because their time and resources are otherwise engaged to perform their own services or to produce their own products for the village. The model I’ve described accurately reflects every indigenous society.

Our baker, Markus, learned his craft from his mother and father who were a stellar team. Markus had wanted to be a hunter since childhood, but never had the instinct to locate game and, because of his physical stature, couldn’t muster the endurance required. After two years of failing miserably as a hunter, he returned to the family bakery attached to his childhood home where his parents were simultaneously and rapidly physically failing. Within a year, both were gone.

In his grief, he threw himself into work. The written to-do list for each day was daunting, but he managed to fill nearly every order on time. However, each order seemed to conflict with the next. Nothing flowed.

Late one evening, deep into his fifth ale, he realized that he wasn’t receiving the thanks, handshakes and hugs his parents used to receive for doing the same job. The money and bartering were fine, but he worked far too hard for so little satisfaction.

Then on a sunny September morning, the big “it” happened. A girl of five or six from a neighboring village had just bitten into one of his cinnamon pretzels and shouted out, “Mommy, this is the best thing I’ve ever tasted! Thank you!” Mom replied, “Thank the man who baked them.” The little girl’s eyes locked onto Markus, and she simply uttered, “Thanks.”

Something snapped in him. He became “the Baker.” And with a few splashes of water on his face (to erase the tears of gratitude), he awoke to a world without to-do lists, deadlines and obligations; he awoke to a purpose. Markus discovered the monumental differences between “doing” and “being,” although he had not yet given being a try. Truths are like that: they require no experience or evidence, just discovery.

By the end of that first day he noticed purity in his smallest actions. Somehow the most intelligent portion of his brain was aligning with what was the next most logical event that he must orchestrate. On that first day, he smiled and chuckled more than he had during the past year. Several people asked if he’d lost weight or had otherwise changed his appearance.

The exultant elation of the first day’s epiphany soon subsided, but the ever-hovering joy was rarely absent. He wondered how he’d ever performed the functions of a baker when he’d done them all blindfolded. It seemed as if he noticed everything now, even though he didn’t have time to absorb all the details.

Everyone said that Markus’ products tasted better than those of his mother and father, although he hadn’t changed the family’s mainstay recipes. Within a year, he could have accepted a dinner or pub invitation every night of the week. Within two years, he was married to an angel, and he discovered that he had achieved a degree of reverent adoration from the villagers that even his parents had never acquired. He was soon the first baker to ever be elected to the town council.

Markus never believed in miracles until he realized that he was working at least two more hours each day and yet was rarely exhausted and never ill. He used the additional hours to experiment with the art of baking and to make nightly deliveries to three smaller villages. He now considered himself a gifted artist. He couldn’t imagine ever fully retiring.

He had become addicted to the smiles and thanks of his fellow villagers. At times, he prayed for a competitor just so he could truly prove his talent and worth. But, it really wasn’t about him and his ego anymore. It was about baking for those he loved and those he served.

When a stranger asked what he did, his reply was always, “I am a baker.” Indeed, he was the first baker in the village to simply be called Baker on the streets. Markus eventually lost his given name to accept the name of his life’s work, and he lived happily for the rest of his days.

Regarding your own employment today, aren’t you looking for the very best next turn? Put yourself in Markus’ shoes: the best part of being the baker is that the employee (you), employer, customer and village all win, without exception. In terms of job security, there is nothing of more visible and immediate benefit you can give your employer than to serve with authoritative ownership of your position.

This truth is realized by answering two questions: Why exactly am I doing this and for exactly whom am I doing this? No matter what your answers are to both of these questions, they can combine to create a new definition of yourself while you are in the workplace. Can you wash cars while looking for a job as a bartender, while going to school to be a veterinarian? Absolutely.

Can you imagine a marketplace where perfection actually mattered? Even I have difficulty grasping how radically different our world would be. I believe that our current economic crisis is solely a result of the masses’ doing instead of being. While you are doing, it matters little if you fall asleep. While you are being, you are awake. Why do you serve? Whom do you serve?

As a social creature, you can only find true contentment in service. You can stomp grapes or you can dance on them; the result is the same. Insist on a higher order of existence as each moment passes. Do you recall that Markus surrendered to what was already there? Surrender to the service that lies before you today, wrap your workplace identity around that service and relax into the power of being.


Bradley Falk is a spiritual healer and speaker who lives in Tampa, Fla. He is the author of Guided Passage: Become Who You Are. or 800-820-3002.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 2, Apr/May 2009.

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