Author: Michael Tominac
Recently, I was hospitalized several days for an illness. I was completely miserable.
After a full day in a crowded emergency room, I was finally admitted to the hospital. When I arrived in my room on Jefferson Ward, it was evident that the night housekeeping staff had poorly cleaned and prepped the room. In addition, the hospital bed was terribly uncomfortable. It consisted of an air mattress that was programmed to adjust the air pressure every minute or so. It was all a bit depressing.
The next morning, a very warm, attractive woman came into my room. To protect her identity, I will call her Grace. Grace was cheerfully talkative and offered to be of assistance in any way she could. She asked me why I was in the hospital and took an interest in my comfort. Full of joy and positivity, Grace energetically moved around in a jolly manner while performing her duties, attempting to uplift my spirits along the way.
At first, I wasn’t aware that Grace was part of the housekeeping staff. I thought she was a hospital liaison paying me a visit to ensure that I was happy with my care. When Grace finished her housekeeping duties, she told me to let her know if I needed anything. She came back a couple of times throughout her shift to check up on me before she left for the day.
Evening came and the hospital bed began to fail completely. The air pressure of the mattress was not holding up and was automatically adjusting every few seconds. When I informed the night nurse of the problem, he said, “People don’t come to the hospital to get rest, they come to get better.” (Translation: I’m lazy and don’t care enough to find you a new bed.) Interesting concept considering every other medical professional I have ever encountered recommended rest as an integral part of “getting better”. Starving from being on a liquid diet for nearly four days, exhausted, in pain and now angry, I didn’t sleep that night. Torture.
On the third day, Grace returned. When I told her about my lack of sleep, the poorly cleaned condition of the room when I arrived, and the bed (which turned out to be broken), she seemed slightly embarrassed but not surprised. She then said that she would take care of everything. Over the following 30 minutes or so, Grace completely cleaned my room from top to bottom, re-arraigned the furniture, and got me a brand new, functional bed.
Grace didn’t merely perform a physical cleaning of my room. Like a Shaman, she cleared out the heavy, depressive energy of the room, transforming the feeling into one of lightness and hope. It was quite astonishing work for someone who was “just a housekeeper.”
There was a quality in the way Grace performed her job that is not often seen anymore. She treated others like she wanted to be treated and provided selfless, client-centered service. What set Grace apart from her co-workers was the intention she held while performing her duties. She operated from the heart, took pride in her job and went above and beyond what was required in her job description - she put love into her work.
As a result, Grace’s actions helped to ease my suffering, which is the primary intention she held when performing her housekeeping responsibilities. For Grace, her job wasn’t just about housekeeping: there was a higher meaning.
When I thanked Grace for all the little things she did for me, I discussed all of this with her and she began to cry. Why? Because I saw her and recognized the beauty of her heart and what she was attempting to create for patients, namely, an environment that facilitated healing and eased suffering. She wasn’t seeking recognition and didn’t do it because it was part of her job description. Grace did it because she was operating from her authentic self.
To be sure, her duties as a housekeeper could have easily been performed in a detached manner. Cleaning up a room, providing fresh linens and taking out the garbage does not require love or a caring disposition. The job could be adequately performed to satisfaction by just doing what was absolutely necessary, and without engaging with patients. This, however, would not have been consistent with Grace’s calling, nor the feeling in her heart.
As we talked more, she told me about her trials and tribulations in life. She was dealing with a lot. Housekeeping was not her chosen profession but one she gratefully took out of financial necessity, as she had been recently laid-off from a six-figure job in the corporate world. Grace could have easily considered her housekeeping job as being beneath her, done a mediocre job or used her personal challenges as an excuse for conducting herself in a different manner. But she didn’t.
Grace told me that there were times when she was exhausted and could have taken a break, but didn’t because she thought of the patients and their families waiting in the ER for a hospital room to become available. So, she pushed on. Unfortunately, not everyone in Grace’s department appreciated her work ethic.
There is a dynamic in the world where certain jobs, and those who hold them, are seen as less valuable. Because of this belief, many people begrudgingly take these positions and don’t perform to their highest potential. Many today are so consumed with self-importance that it blinds them to the simple fact that all jobs can have a positive impact when they are infused with meaning and aligned with a personal calling. If there weren’t people doing certain jobs in this world, the world would be a much more difficult place in which to live.
There is always a reason why you find yourself in a current position. Take pride in what you do for a living, even if it’s far from your dream profession. It’s a matter of your personal character and integrity. Striving for excellence in whatever you do, and in whatever circumstance you find yourself, becomes engrained in your being. The lessons learned are a stepping-stone to what you really want to do in life. There is no wasted time. Every experience can provide the knowledge and skills necessary for success on your next journey, whatever that may be.
Although, you might not be currently doing exactly what you want to do for a living, you can still have an impact on somebody’s world. Even if you are just serving coffee, a smile and some kindness while serving it could make a big difference in someone’s day. And you never know who is watching or whom you are going to serve next. They may just be the person to take your life to the next level.
Fresh out of college, I waited tables at a chain restaurant. It wasn’t my ideal job but I approached the position with the intention that I was going to provide the best service anyone has ever had coming to that restaurant. My intention was to provide conscious, pleasant, timely and attentive service. An interesting thing happened. One night, about a month and a half after starting, I waited on a gentleman who was dining alone. I gave him the same service that I gave everyone else.
When he was finished with his meal, he asked for his check and then asked me if I had a college degree. I told him that I did. He then asked, “What the hell are you doing here?” I just smiled and he went on to say that he was the Vice President of Information Technology for a ‘giant telecommunications company’. He gave me his business card and said, “Come work for me, I need people like you.” I told him that I didn’t know anything about information technology to which he replied, “I’ll teach you everything you’ll need to know.”
The way I approached my job and how I served him was my interview. Although I didn’t pursue this opportunity because of other aspirations, I received a job offer that could have led to a lucrative IT career.
The intentions you put into your work can have a powerful impact on others. Taking pride in what you do and striving for excellence creates a feeling others can perceive. It reverberates throughout your environment.
What is the intention that you are currently bringing to your work? How can you expect to move beyond your current position if you aren’t approaching your job with a powerful intention and striving for excellence?
In this age of narcissism, showing kindness, pursuing excellence and being of service to others is a revolutionary concept that will set you apart from the pack. So, do your best and be your authentic self.
As for my housekeeping friend, I have no doubt that she will create a well deserved opportunity that will take her to the next level in her life. In fact, this might have already happened…
I will always remember Grace, the Saint of Jefferson Ward.
Copyright © 2015 Michael Tominac. All rights reserved. Full re-post only with permission.