While working with a company in Africa I walked around the compound one evening and noticed a curious insect that really caught my eye- the Dung Beetle.
The local people told me their story about how the male and female Dung Beetles form a pile of manure into about a one-inch diameter ball. The female then holds tightly onto the ball while the male rolls it round and round all over the terrain until they find a satisfactory hole for their dung ball.
Home Sweet Home.
Later on, their children live off the parents’ dung ball until they mature and start their own meaningless cycle of rolling their own balls of dung around the planet. On long trips like this I often struggle with going to sleep. This time around my sleepless nights were likely compounded by contemplating ‘the meaning of life’ after observing this dung ball object lesson.
How many times do we go about life in the same way, day-in and day-out, with no more affect than a Dung Beetle in their meaningless, endless cycle of rolling a pile of dung around? In our jobs are we stuck doing the same-ol, same-ol? Is our off the job life anymore exciting or fulfilling than rolling a pile of dung around our neighborhood environs? So then, what is there about our job that we can do to make a real, lasting difference to the safety, health and welfare of our organization? In the family life what can I do to get out of the rut and add meaning to the few short years we are able to enjoy (or contrarily endure) in the life we are given?
The sleepless nights began to take on a different light as I used them to contemplate ‘the meaning of life’ and then do something about it. Both my work life and family life have improved. Yet there is a cost for this change- my complacency has all but disappeared. Along with its exit comes some increase in stress as a result of being more engaged in family and work. No more time on the sidelines. Can you make such a conscious change in all that you do? More activity, less free time and no longer living a life that is of no more value than a Dung Beetle.
What are your piles of dung at work that need to be dumped and exchanged for a focus on actively engaging in building a zero incident safety culture? Where are those family dung piles that need to be swept out the door permanently?
Is it time for you to make a similar career and life change?