I am Building a Cathedral

To be effective, a team must have a meaningful reason for being together. It is this element that provides the “fuel” for the team and moves them forward. It also provides the passion that is necessary to keep the team inspired and energized.

Consider the following story: One day a traveller, walking along a lane, came across 3 stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked them each what they were doing. The first worker said, “I am making a living for me”. The traveller turned to the second worker and asked him what he was doing and he said, “I am doing the best job of stone cutting in the entire country.” Then the traveller turned to the third worker. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: “I am building a cathedral.”

The first stonecutter is simply doing a day’s work for a day’s pay, for the material reward he receives in exchange for his labor. The substance of his work, the purpose of his work, the context of his work do not matter. He is not a manager and will never be one.

The second stonecutter has higher aspirations. He wants to be the best. He is is an unshakable individualist. His world is competitive and meritocratic. He measures himself against the “whole county” as the story has it—even the whole world.  He is focused on his own narrow view of work. This worker’s pride and attention was limited to the narrow scope of his own work, ignoring any contribution to the organization’s overall objectives. The focus on the task, the competition, the virtuosity, is a kind of blindness. The functional work becomes an end in itself. Workmanship must be encouraged in the business enterprise. But it must always be related to the needs of the whole. This stonecutter fails to see that there would be no stones to cut if there were not a community building a cathedral.

The third stonecutter embraces a broader vision. He reminds us that the individual is not enough, that we want to make a difference in and for the world—as it is today and as it will be in the future. According to Peter Drucker, the third man is the true ‘manager’, because he’s the one who can see the big picture.

Summing-up: It is essential  to provide people with information, to give them the overall company goals. So that they get an impression what they are working on. Each employee should identify with the company, its goals and the strategies to reach these goals.

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