p>At the very outset of any discussion regarding ways and means of increasing one’s interest in one’s work, the objection may be raised that conceivably there are circumstances under which it is harmful rather than helpful to attempt to increase vocational interest. Suppose, for example, that a man is doing work for which he is not really adapted by nature. Should he not be urged to find work for which he is better fitted, rather than to cultivate interest in the work he now is doing? Undoubtedly a man should do his best, through self-study, to choose a vocation according with any outstanding natural aptitudes he may possess. And undoubtedly if he is a man of outstanding natural aptitudes and has already chosen badly, he should shift into another vocation-provided he can be sure of choosing more wisely when he determines to change. Undoubtedly, too, parents should make it a rule to study their children carefully with a view to discovering outstanding natural aptitudes and assisting their children in a wise choice of vocations.
But how many children exhibit outstanding natural aptitudes? A study of the problem of aptitude and vocation shows that, generally, success depends not so much on close agreement between vocation and natural aptitude as on the gaining of acquired aptitude through sound working methods and the cultivating of a keen interest in the vocation chosen. Of course, where there is marked disagreement between the special requirements of a vocation and the mental or physical peculiarities of the individual in that vocation, real success is impossible by any means. And the world unquestionably contains numerous people unsuccessful because of this. But there are also numerous people highly successful despite no careful guidance in vocation choosing and no training with one particular vocation in view. Can it be convincingly argued that the successful were successful simply because they chanced to stumble into vocations precisely suited to their natural aptitudes? And if it is argued that natural aptitude unconsciously influenced them in their choice of a vocation, how does it come that natural aptitude did not similarly influence the failures to save them from being failures?
No. Granting that natural aptitude often plays a determining role, the fact seems to be that for most men and women success depends mainly on something else. That something else is acquired aptitude – it is the result of several cooperating agencies, chief among which is “putting one’s soul into one’s work.” When this chief agency is absent success is certain to elude the seeker, no matter how richly he may be endowed in natural aptitude for his chosen vocation.
Let’s not deceive ourselves. Some people may justly plead vocational maladjustment as an excuse for failure. Most people who fail, do so because they have not trained themselves to achieve, and are much more interested in other things than in their work. This implies that they have no clear notion either of their responsibility as workers or of the importance of the work they are doing. A positive contempt for their work may actually be at the bottom of their lack of interest in it.
Ponder this statement by Dr. S. S. Curry of Boston, one of the hardest workers, and a worker who has gained about as much insight into the true philosophy of work as any man:
“Anything can be made drudgery. A man can study art, or sing, paint pictures, edit newspapers, or write books, and make his work drudgery. Drudgery is working perfunctorily. It is work without aspiration, work without an ideal. No man can do anything well in life without an ideal. If a man undertakes a certain work he must begin it by awakening and realizing the importance of that work in the world’s life. He must form a definite ideal of the best possible way of doing that work and of its relation to the world. In short, no man can accomplish anything in a negative, indifferent attitude toward his work.”
James Freeman Clark defines drudgery as “work without imagination”. If you are one of those who hate your work, bring your imagination into it. Try to think of it in the way Dr. Curry suggests. Try to picture what your work means, not in monetary or other terms to yourself, but in terms of benefit to your fellow men. In proportion as you make yourself feel, “I am really of use in the world,” in proportion as you develop as your motive force the hope and desire and belief of rendering helpful service, interest in your work will grow. This, moreover, is the one sure anti-drudgery specific. It works without fail.
As a further aid to increasing interest in your work, compel yourself to pay more attention to it than you have been doing. The more you become interested in it the easier it will be to pay attention to it. If interest breeds attention, so is it true that attention breeds interest. Apply this to your own case.