Work with Purpose
“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Theodore Roosevelt, September 7, 1903
Teddy Roosevelt’s declaration in his Labor Day speech over 100 years ago still holds true today. When workers and employees feel that they are making a contribution or an impact to something or someone they value, there are no limits to what can be accomplished.
But what makes work worth doing?
I remember the first time as a young Naval Officer that I went onboard an aircraft carrier. 100,000+ tons of steel plowing through the ocean, jets launching and recovering from the flight deck. It was simply amazing!
The sheer power of one plane as it catapults off the ship can be felt throughout your body. But that power isn’t what makes the U.S. Navy the best in the world-it’s the men and women who operate that ship and those aircraft.
On any aircraft carrier deployment, the biggest challenge is maintaining combat readiness in a constantly changing, challenging and oftentimes hostile and unforgiving environment.
The people who do this work come from every walk of life. They are given a sense of purpose, and they know that what they do matters. A floating city of almost 5,000, they launch, recover and maintain airplanes, cook 18,000 meals a day and, of course, operate two nuclear power plants that fuel the carrier. They are on a mission.
There are no eight hour shifts onboard an aircraft carrier. Everybody has a job to do. The crew, a high performing team, works constantly. Wearing the rainbow’s hues up on the flight deck designates job duties: men and women who fuel planes wear purple. Handle weapons and ammo? Red. Responsible for directing aircraft? Yellow for you. Respond to emergencies? Silver.
And their average age is 19 and a half. Remarkable.
No matter which task they are doing, they are hard at work and, something that might be surprising, they are often smiling. They have a right to be.
They know that their work matters. They are part of a team and they are on a mission. These hard working Sailors and Marines know the meaning of intense Training, Teamwork, Accountability, Responsibility, Purpose, and Discipline…
For over 200 years generations of Americans have stepped up to the plate to do work that matters- fighting for the freedoms we all enjoy. This Labor Day, if you are in a leadership or management position, make sure your employees know their mission, that their work is worth doing and that they are valued. Be prepared for the extraordinary, there are no limits to what can be accomplished!
Happy Labor Day!
Carey Lohrenz is the author of the Wall Street Journal Best Seller “Fearless Leadership: High-Performance Lessons from the Flight Deck.”, a motivational speaker and leadership expert.
Carey has flown missions worldwide as a combat-mission-ready United States Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot. Her extensive experience operating in one of the world’s most challenging environments, an aircraft carrier, and her unique position as one of the first female combat pilots make her the perfect opening or closing inspirational keynote speaker for your corporate meeting or conference.
Carey graduated from the University of Wisconsin where she was a varsity rower, also training at the Pre-Olympic level. After graduation, she attended the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School before starting flight training and her naval career. She is the mother of four kids, and is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration in Strategic Leadership.