Okay, that little parable is slightly cliche and it has been used by inspirational speakers for years. But I've always kind of liked it. It illustrates how your perspective on things goes a long ways towards how you approach anything you do.
A traveler came upon a group of three hard-at-work stonemasons, and asked each in turn what he was doing.
The first said, “I am sanding down this block of marble.”
The second said, “I am preparing a foundation.”
The third said, “I am building a cathedral.”
I like building cathedrals. I like believing that what I do matters. But damn, sometimes it just feels like I'm just moving rocks from one pile to another.
I work in a renovated turn-of-the-century train station. Each morning I walk through the Great Hall. It used to be the main train depot. It looks like a cathedral and early in the morning, when there is no one else around, it is quite peaceful and uplifting.
But then I take the elevator up to my office. As the elevator door closed this morning I realized that, at the very minimum, I had another 16 years of punching that elevator button to carry me up to my office. That's about 4160 elevator trips. And at the end of those 4160 trips up the elevator what will I have to show for it and who will care?
But you really can't look at things that way. Then you are just carrying rocks from one place to another and after another 16 years all you'd have is a big pile of rocks.
So as the elevator doors opened and I walked to my office, I said to myself "I'm building a cathedral."
But when I'm finished with the damned thing, I'm going to Disneyland.