“The task is everything, not why.” – Swiss Proverb
Is this proverb true or false?
FALSE: There are lots of reasons why tasks are subject to larger questions about purpose and strategy. Many organizations have run operational excellence programs only to find that they became more efficient and effective at the wrong things. They literally sped up their demise by getting better at losing money. On a personal front, it has been shown time and time again that if employees feel connected to the purpose of the business, they are more loyal, more productive, and are more effective sharing the company’s mission and values to customers.
TRUE: In a world that is obsessed with purpose, it is interesting to think about the dignity of tasks. Years ago when most lived an agrarian life, the “why” of work was obvious. You worked to feed and protect your family and tribe. Human kind has served kings, countries, institutions, and the pleasure of others. We have served at the pleasure of presidents and of Mother Nature herself. Tomes have been writing about finding the divine in the mundane tasks of life. Elias Cairo, the fearless leader of Portland’s charcuterie Olympia Provisions, said it this way. "If you focus on the tasks, you fall in love with what you do. And if you fall in love with what you do, it’s why you live."
In your experience, is the proverb true or false? Or can you, too, debate both sides?