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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr.

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, 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 street sweeper who did his job well.'"

American Civil Rights Leader/Preacher/Author
1929 - 1968

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
One of those games we play is:  "Where were you when . . ."  On April 4, 1968, I was a nineteen year old college student at Goshen College in Indiana.  Two months earlier I had the privilege of marching with Dr. King at a Vietnam War protest march in Washington D.C. The murder of Dr. King on my birthday in 1968 impacted me both emotionally and spiritually.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
For the past twenty years I have been sharing this quote by Dr. King in my speeches on leadership.  I believe that work is spiritual in nature.  The work we do helps to cleanse our souls and free our spirits.  Many people see work as a negative condition.  They hate Mondays and grumble about having to go to work.  Many people wish they did not have to work.  But if you have ever lost a job and sat idle for a few months, you appreciate the value of work in your life.

As creative leaders we have a special opportunity to share the fruit of our labor with others. Most of my life I have dreamed of being able to give up my bill-paying job and write full time.  Fortunately, this never happened.  I think I am a better person for having the discipline to get up an hour earlier than everyone and writing before going to work.  Sometimes what we wish for is not in our best interests.  The bill-paying work and the creative work are both important and both have helped to make me a better person.

Be proud of the work you do.  Celebrate the work you do.  Be happy with the gifts you have been given.