During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor sweeping the floor. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
“Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon,” the janitor responded.
To a lot of people, the NASA janitor was just cleaning the building. But in the larger story unfolding around him, he was helping to make history. The janitor got it. He understood the vision and his part in it, and he had a purpose.
A similar story is the one of Christopher Wren, one of the greatest English architects. One day he was walking, unrecognised, through the men working on the building of St. Paul’s cathedral in London, which he designed.
”What are you doing?” he asked one of the workmen. The man replied, “I’m cutting a piece of stone.” As he walked, he asked the same question to another man, and the man replied, “I’m earning five shillings twopence a day.”
To a third man he addressed the same inquiry, and the man answered, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a beautiful cathedral.”
That man had vision. He could see beyond the cutting of stone, beyond the earning of his daily wage, to the creation of a work of art—the building of a great cathedral.
Here’s the point: No matter how large or small your role, you are contributing to the larger story unfolding within your life, your business, and your organisation. And when your entire team embraces that type of attitude and belief system, incredible things happen.