“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” – Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)
Pope Benedict XVI just wrapped up a six day trip to the United States. His trip most recently included a rally with 60,000 people at Yankee stadium, as well as a visit to Ground Zero. Everyone has their opinion on the Pope, or the Catholic Church for that matter, but discussing those controversies is for other blogs. I’m wondering; what can we learn about work from the Pope?
True, the Pope has a role that is incredibly unique. It is probably difficult for you to imagine yourself in his position. Consider this: the Pope is the head of an organization with over 1 billion members. He leads a staff of over 400,000 priests and 4,800 bishops. There must be something we can learn from him about work. Indeed, I believe we can learn a lot from His Holiness.
Here are 4 lessons we can learn from the Pope about work:
1. Command authority, not power
How did the Pope receive his position? Did he have the strongest personality? Was he the most domineering and authoritative leader in his previous post? I doubt it. The Pope received his position because he gained the respect of his peers. There is a difference between commanding authority and commanding power. Think about it. Are you more likely to be motivated to work for someone that you respect, or someone that you dislike but must follow out of obligation because that person has power? Strive to be the person that garners respect.
Clearly it would be impossible for the Pope to manage 400,000 priests. He delegates responsibility between cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. This is a basic idea of leadership, but one where many people fail. When leading a project, one must know the strengths and weaknesses of their co-workers, and assign tasks accordingly.
Money and work are the leading cause of stress for about 75% of the American population according to the American Psychological Association. Everyone knows the Pope is a praying man. Try taking 15 minutes out of your workday and find a quiet place to pray/meditate. Our world is constantly filled with noise, so try and find a place that is as quiet as possible. Do it every day for a week, and see if it helps relieve stress. You may be surprised. The results will leave you more relaxed, contributing to healthier relationships with your co-workers and higher productivity.
4. Work for something beyond yourself
The Pope is serving God. Who are you working for? In a self-obsessed, individualistic culture Americans find it easy to work for oneself. But how much value is there in that? Find a reason to go to work. Besides just money. Even if you find your job meaningless, infuse it with meaning. Find out who you are serving, and make it a point to serve those people to the best of your abilities.
I’m sure there are many other lessons we could learn as well. Your input is welcomed in the comments section below.
No matter how you feel about religion, you’ve got to have some respect for what the Pope does. You may never be the Pope, but it could never hurt to work like him.
This is a guest post by Steven Krager.
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