by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An underappreciated element about vocational jobs is how intrinsically motivating they can be. A distinctly human demand that must be nurtured throughout life, lest you face a nagging sense of meaninglessness, is found in accomplishing goals.
This is a built-in feature of most vocational work. The whole industry is powered by problems in need of solutions, and no two issues a worker encounters are the same. Whether the enterprise is replacing a light fixture, installing a new motor in an air conditioner, or framing a wall, the dynamic of attaining goals can be seen in nearly all areas of these industries. …
… The process of learning brings to mind an old Taoist parable about a butcher who learned “the way” and never again needed to sharpen the knife he used to cut up oxen. He said a bad butcher must sharpen his knife monthly, a good one does it yearly, and he has not sharpened his in 19 years. While he attributes the Tao for his expert skill, his description of having developed a sixth sense for what he does and his exceedingly high level of understanding with regard to his profession rings true both for the butcher and the plumber.