Our campus groundskeeper was watering plants as I drove in to work. I stopped to tell him that many of the prospective students who have been visiting all week have commented on how beautiful the campus looked. I thanked him for his efforts.
“Yes, but are they enrolling?” he asked. “That is what really matters.”
I told him that many were only juniors in high school so he had to keep the campus looking pretty for another two years.
We had a good laugh and I drove on, but as I reflected on this exchange it became more gratifying. My conversation signified that the “it takes a village” mantra had been internalized. We say that we need everyone on campus to be in the student service business — not just the admissions staff or the senior administration — and here was someone as a shining example of understanding the impact of his work.
How can all of us do more to articulate the “why” behind the tasks, to share the information about what matters to the bottom line and toward mission achievement, and to remind ourselves that we contribute to a larger effort. Work becomes much more important and meaningful when we are building cathedrals instead of just laying bricks — or changing student lives instead of just watering flowers.
Take a moment to think about how the work you do connects to something bigger — and to someone else — and then take a moment to thank the person today for making that connection with you.