“I have the best job in the world”

This was not what I expected to hear from the clean-cut, college-aged young man sitting in the parking attendant booth.

Handing him my parking ticket, I asked, “Do you get a lot of studying done?”

He enthusiastically responded, “Absolutely! I read a book a day. I’ve figured out that I work about 30 minutes a day. So I get paid to read. I have the best job in the world!”

How many people would consider a tedious, minimum-wage job the best in the world? Not many. A lot of people would complain that they weren’t using their brains, how mind-numbing it was to wait and wait and wait for a customer, and then in 60 seconds the transaction was over, and they’d wait and wait and wait again.

Most parking attendants I’ve observed listen to music or talk on the phone in between transactions. Few, in my experience, use their time to better themselves.

I, too, had one of those best jobs in the world. It was between my freshman and sophomore years in college. I worked alone in a tiny donut shop on a main thoroughfare. Mostly my customers were construction workers on their way to or from a job. And most of the traffic, as you’d guess, was early in the morning. By 9:00 my customers had trailed to a trickle.

I busied myself reading, writing letters (on paper — remember when we used to do that?), or doing embroidery while listening to favorite radio stations. I got a lot done that summer and, like the parking attendant, felt I had a great job to be paid to do what I’d do at home. Since there were so few interruptions (customers), I’d have long stretches to really focus on my other activities.

Since few jobs allow us to do our hobbies at work, the question then becomes how can we turn any job into the best job in the world? Even with little “free time” at work, how could we don the perspective that this job is the greatest?

For example, instead of bemoaning challenging customers and coworkers, we could look at them as a chance to try some new approaches to getting along. If we feel inundated, we can seek out colleagues that can give us some new methods to attack our workload. If we’re feeling uninspired, we can explore how we can get excited again about our projects.

Every job could become the best job in the world if we decide to make it so. And if you’re a manager, how could you create an environment where each employee thinks their job is the best?