The Story of Three Bricklayers
Why you should develop a mindset of self-importance
In some way, you are producing work that matters.
Reminding yourself of that seems superficial.
In fact, I did not recognize the importance of deliberately viewing my work as important until very recently.
But let’s clear something up.
In this case, by using the term ‘work’ I am referring to the things you accomplish and set out to accomplish during your daily productive hours, not just infrequent milestones that you would normally brag about (such as job promotions, product launches, and other highly visible and once-off events).
Why should someone view their daily work as being important?
A simple story sparked my belief in this esoteric concept that will be sure to differentiate you.
My adaptation of the story begins with three bricklayers.
They worked together as part of a construction team for a new housing sub-division.
A newspaper reporter was profiling the job responsibilities of local community members and asked each of the three bricklayers, “What do you do for a living?”
The first bricklayer responded by stating, “Why I lay brick for a living!”
The second bricklayer then chimed in by claiming, “I make $18 an hour for a living!”
Unimpressed with the previous responses, the local reporter turned to the final bricklayer.
She asked, “Well, what do you do for a living?”
The reporter, anticipating another fruitless answer, received an unexpected and brilliant response.
The third bricklayer smiled proudly and began to clear his throat.
With enormous pride, the third bricklayer responded by saying, “I am building the world’s greatest and safest home for future generations of families who will go on to raise incredible children… That’s what I’m building.”
Think about that response for a moment.
The third bricklayer said this because he genuinely believed in the importance of his craft.
While we don’t know what exactly happened to each bricklayer, it is not difficult to imagine the third bricklayer being more successful than the previous two. At the very least, I would be willing to bet that he continued to refine his trade.
And even if the house he was building would not actually be the greatest house, he has stated a personal mission.
I call the characteristic that the third bricklayer demonstrated the mindset of self-importance (or self-worth), a critical attribute to creating something of value for the world.
It sounds selfish to think of oneself as being important. I know. I am not recommending you lose your sense of humility and modesty either.
I am recommending that you use this mindset of self-importance as a daily affirmation. Why is your daily work important?
Say it to yourself or write it down daily. Then, realize the benefits in your own life. This is the power of affirmations.
Writing it down daily will quiet the inner voice of imposter syndrome. But there are three additional reasons for why someone would want to adopt a mindset of self-importance.
Three Reasons Why You Should Adopt a Mindset of Self-Importance
- If you understand the importance of your work, you will continuously search for ways to improve the inputs and processes of your work.
Want to be more effective? Continuous improvement nets an increase in the quality of your output.
You will do this unconsciously because the stakes are too high to remain stagnant. Important work means that there is a high opportunity cost for not getting it done.
2. Intense belief in the work you do puts matters directly within your control.
Put simply, people who view their work as being trivial disregard the necessity of pride as a key ingredient in the recipe of quality.
These types of people don’t think their destiny is within their control, and so they revert to the default version of themselves. They see the world as something out to get them, not as something they can control.
Those who seem to always come out on top believe that it was within their reach from the beginning.
Thought experiment: Have you ever met anyone who you admire that did not take pride in their craft? Try to name one person.
3. The attitudes of others are often reflections of how we view ourselves.
Let’s think back to the three bricklayer story.
There’s a good chance that the reporter also believed that the third bricklayer was more impressive than his counterparts.
Maybe you can fake this, but the true results will come from internal conviction. Indeed, this is a self-reinforcing tool that you can implement.
When others believe in you, you will increase your internal conviction.
The paradox is that in order for others to believe in you, you must first demonstrate your value.
The objective of adopting the mindset of self-importance is not to intentionally feed your ego.
The objective is to enable you to combat that inner voice pulling you back from reaching your potential.
Achieving this objective will enable you to do better work, every day.
Be like the third brick layer. Believe in the significance of what you do every day with a mindset of self-importance.
How will you adopt the mindset of self-importance in your daily work in 2016?
If you enjoyed this story, I’d appreciate recommending and sharing it with a friend who needs that self-talk in their life.
*I credit my discovery of the original ‘three bricklayers’ story and the inspiration for this post to the book The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz.