Work and Meaning

Photo by Rafael Cerqueira on

Recently our Chief Medical Officer celebrated his retirement and he spoke of his purpose in healthcare and what it meant to him.  I’ve been on the corporate side of healthcare for 20 years and I’ve been disillusioned and pained to see what healthcare has become.  But as I watched the video celebrating his accomplishments and his work over his lifetime, I realized that there are still people doing good things out there.  There are still people who care.  I mean, we all get involved in our work for one reason or another, but there is a distinct difference when we do work we love instead of working for profit.

His pictures showing a lifetime of work and family and people he’s impacted showed me another key point: the meaning in work comes from us.  We can’t assume that something will be meaningful just because we partake in it.  We need to assign the meaning and decide what is important to us.  It is something to see years of work flashing by on a screen, captured in pictures and video, thinking of what it meant in each of those moments.  THAT was something aspirational because the more we can participate in life, the more meaning we have.

In healthcare in particular, we are trained to disregard our needs in favor of taking care of others.  While I understand this in practice and even a bit in purpose, I do not understand the point of sacrificing your own life and time with your family for others.  A majority of those hundreds of beautiful moments were spent at work.  Yes, there was family along and there were probably many moments in private, but the time spent away from family came at a cost.  That time won’t come back.  So when it comes to a life well spent and creating meaningful work, it is about balance. 

When it comes to how I want to be remembered, I want to be known for inspiring people to find their purpose, for showing people there is a different way, for loving my family and friends fiercely, and for driving people to find their identity.  I want to help people awaken everything that they are, everything that makes them who they are.  I want to be remembered as someone who inspired change and saw the big picture and helped people put it together.  I want to be remembered for love.

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