“So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:22
My apologies for retelling this story so frequently, except it is a message that carries in it such wisdom. From Aesop’s Fables: “A farmer, being at death’s door, and desiring to impart to his sons a secret of such moment, called them round him and said, ‘My sons, I am shortly about to die. I would have you know, therefore, that in my vineyard there lies a hidden treasure. Dig, and you will find it.’ As soon as their father was dead, the sons took spade and fork and turned up the soil of the vineyard over and over again, in their search for the treasure which they supposed to lie buried there. They found none, however: but the vines, after so much digging, produced a crop such as had never before been seen.”
For the past several years I’ve had the privilege of coaching a group of graduate students pursuing an MBA. In particular, this is an executive program designed for professionals deeply engaged in full time careers, usually in either executive positions or rising stars in mid-level management. Many, if not most, have families as well. Set up as a cohort program, it is fast-paced as opposed to self-paced, and very demanding on their all-too-precious time – all in all a grueling twenty-one-month commitment. Honestly, I don’t envy them – that is, until I witness the joy on their faces at graduation each year from their sense of accomplishment, as I did this past weekend. It is then that I am reminded that nothing in this life is more fulfilling and rewarding than our work, because that is our lot.
When I retired at an early age from my previous career it was not, as some may have mistakenly thought, to embark on a life of leisure – not at all. My goal instead was to prepare myself for work I can do the rest of my life. I love work, even work for which I do not receive pay – and sometimes I don’t. “So I saw there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.” King Solomon observed. Thus, the wise old man in Aesop’s Fable could not have left his sons a more valuable treasure buried in his vineyard than a life lesson about the joy, fulfillment and rewards of hard work.