Story and Why
Writing About Work
By Tom Gilbert -
Copyright © September, 2015
work, the personal history of your career or careers, can be fertile
material for a memoir. Many of us spend a huge amount of our lifetime
at work, doing various jobs and building a career.
A lot of our effort goes into finding meaningful work. Doing something
satisfying, that stimulates us and challenges us, and ideally helps
make our world a better place.
Yes, I know that work
is a four letter word.
And there are times when we don't feel like doing it. Yet it is
necessary. Most of us live in societies where we find it necessary to
earn income to survive. We all have bills to pay.
We also crave meaning and purpose in our lives. Our work personal
history probably includes jobs we did just to make a buck, but
hopefully you have had jobs you did that help make a life. I certainly hope you know
So Many Jobs
As I close in on my 60th birthday and reflect back on various jobs I've
held I find there are many life lessons. Like others, I've had to learn the
meaning of responsibility, punctuality and doing my best. I've also
suffered through some tough work challenges and periods of unemployment and economic uncertainty.
When I was a youngster my first job was a paper route. I was the typical
teenager riding his bike and throwing the newspaper onto the porches.
That part wasn't so bad. Collecting the subscription fee was a
different story. Some people were happy to pay; others avoided it. A
thirteen year olf kid doesn't have much power to persuade payment. The
business model changed, of course, and newspapers soon figured out
there was a better way for processing payment than having the paper
carrier get the money.
My brother and I mowed lawns some summers. Hot, sweaty work, but at
least we were outside and not stuck in a fast food restaurant or mall
outlet. I had my share of those types of jobs, too.
One summer, just out of high school, I worked in a steel mill in Rome,
New York. It was a startup and rival of the established Rome Strip
Steel Company. And they were not as big on safety. A tough job with some
On the Air
Some of my best jobs were working in the radio industry. It was great
fun to play music and talk about it. I had about a 30-year career in
broadcasting and worked at stations around the country. I was a program
director quite a few times and dealt with some of the management
headaches, but I also had the creative freedom to format the
personality of a radio station. Stationality
is what we called it.
Being an adult with responsibilities of wife and family meant a change
in how I perceived work. More financial dealings. The difficulty of
finding some sort of balance between home life and work
Purpose and Talents
The real goal and blessing of a satisfying work life is discovering
what you are good at, what fulfills your desires for purpose, and
getting the opportunity to do it. Some people are successful as
entrepreneurs, but the freedom of being your own boss means you need to
be able to deal with risk and stress.
My current career as a writer, school teacher and personal historian
allows me to wear many hats. I am working harder than ever. I am also
finding more meaning and purpose. It is wonderful to help people
discover the importance of their stories and to preserve them. Teaching
and writing go hand in hand for me.
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