To many of us we are defined by our job, may be our salary. I recall in the Royal Air Force, I had a rank, a role, in which I had a status. This status conveyed all that needed to be known. That’s sad really. Really sad. The rank told you whether I was an officer or in the ranks. The role told you what position you had, what significance in the unit you worked within. I was a navigator and then mission systems aircrew.
As a teacher I repeatedly heard from senior members of the teaching staff how the pupils should strive to attain positions, select particular occupations, which would attract the highest wages. One Assembly I heard the Principal state that every pupil needed to be the first in the job queue – to get that coveted job. I recall speaking with my Form after that Assembly, encouraging them that when they refer to salary we can equally ask to get the job or occupation where we might be the happiest. Does being happier equate with higher salary?
A few years ago the Government produced a list of occupations which were given a ‘happiness score’. I did noticed that a Church Minister came out very near the top with the owner of a Public Bar very much in the lower end of the league. I could never ascertain how exactly the Government assessed happiness. You can read about it here. I hope to confirm that happiness index score in the years ahead as a Deacon!
So it would seem that for the most part we discern a person’s capability by their salary and/or job occupation. But what if we started to look at the person?
Rather not what they can do but who they are? Then we start to see that regardless of the initial assumptions we make upon first catching eyes upon the person we can reflect on who they really are. Compassion, kindness, tolerance, diligence are all great qualities but not all are typically associated with high salary jobs. How about honesty, sincerity and openness? Would we like such a person who had these qualities? Would we like to be that person?
Currently I am away at a Conference where during the evening welcome session they have asked that we not do but be. We have been asked to value each other not for the role that they perform but for the person that they are, with their frailties and their strengths. This requires strength in ourselves to stop making those initial assumptions, very often false, and to pause and take in the real person. It requires us to listen to the person, not to immediately tell them our story – that will come when they listen to us.
Can we do that?