Sweep Your Streets

I recently stumbled upon the best quote:

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

I find that absolutely beautiful.  And I thought I’d share the revelation I had after reading it: that I can perfectly apply King’s quote to my tedious little job, watching patrons swim at the local outdoor pool.

Lifeguarding is a great job for teens and I’d highly recommend it.  But that doesn’t mean it never gets tiring.  You get hot, you get thirsty, you get so SO bored.  It’s really easy to have a terrible attitude, snap at kids, wish it would thunder so the pool would close.  It’s easy to let your mind wander, fight for the best spot in rotation, do a halfway job cleaning the bathrooms.  Which is all, I think, understandable.

But lately, I’ve been really tired of my cruddy attitude when it comes to my job.  It leads me to dread going and when I’m there, simply count down the minutes and hours until I can leave.  Yuck.  What a waste of time, right?

Then I saw King’s quote.   And it hit me.  If I’m not at that pool trying to be the best lifeguard in the world; if I’m not giving my job the best that I can, then why am I even there?  I shouldn’t be.  So instead of wasting my summer being miserable, I’m resolving to “[Lifeguard] so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great [lifeguard] who did [her] job well.”

If you have a job similar to mine (read: a little tedious, a little boring) and can relate, I encourage you to stop telling yourself things like “anyone could do this.  It’s pointless.  It’s not helping me.  I’m wasting my time.”  Because if you believe that, it’s not helping you.  You are wasting your time.

But if like me, you decide to stop doing just enough to get by, I know something good will come of it.  If you want to go from average to excellent, believe me when I say that that attitude is a standout.  Don’t be surprised when you start getting joy, actual joy, from your tedious little job.  It’s already happening to me.

xo, j


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