I live in Washington, D.C. – home of the award ceremony. We have ceremonies to celebrate our successes, ceremonies to commemorate our failures, and ceremonies to celebrate our transitions. At a recent ceremony for the latter, the MC introducing the guest of honor, who had built a career in public service, commented that with a law degree from Yale the honoree could have chosen many paths but instead he chose do to “good work.” The obvious question is raised – if public service is “good work,” what is everything else?
Having worked in the private and public sectors, I’ve witnessed the grandeurs of superiority of both – each side is convinced it is its work that is “good work”. The private sector believes they’re smarter, more competitive, more capable of navigating the demands of the world, and that it is their work that propels the economy forward. The public sector believes they’re more empathetic, more human, more capable of understanding how the state of the world we live in came to be, and that it is their work that plugs the cracks allowing our economic engine to move forward.
They dismiss but envy each other: the private sector wondering what it would be like to quit and join the Peace Corps to experience India; the public sector wondering what it would be like to get paid enough to be nonchalant about money and not be emotionally consumed with one’s work.
Ignore the voices of judgment. Listen to and accept what pulls you. Whatever your path to career fulfillment, may it be in the private or public sector, create your own definition of good work.