Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people. I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Or find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my article: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far – and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.
#HappinessUnites Tour – Stop 22: Professions
When I started thinking about places and experiences where people find a commonality that unites them, certain professions made the list.
All professions don’t happily unite the people who work in them. Some careers are more vocations — meaning it is how someone earns a living. For example, I spent almost two decades in sales and I’ve never heard of any of my colleagues identify with the sales profession. They may identify with the company they work for but not the task of sales. I’m sure there are exceptions, but in general, sales isn’t what I’d consider a unifying profession.
However, some professions unite people even if they are no longer working in that field. These professions create a bond between the people who’ve had shared the common job experiences. They still relate to that profession because it’s part of their personal professional identity. In some cases, the profession might even be considered a calling.
Although many professions happily unite those in them, some that quickly came to my mind included…
This one is personal since my dad was a fireman. I had a front row view to the connections that develop between fire fire-fighting professionals. Most of them work more than one job, yet they always relate to being firemen first. The catalyst for that bond is probably a little different for everyone, but the unity exists even after someone has retired. I was reminded of this when lots of fireman, current and retired, showed up at my dad’s celebrations of life service in July of 2016. The active duty fireman arrived in their firetruck even though my dad had been retired for 18 years, which felt appropriate since he’d been a truck driver.
My friend Bob Wieland was a newsman at the Associated Press for 25 years. Of course, he’s had other jobs since then in corporate public relations and communications, yet I know he still sees himself as a journalist first. When I asked him what was it about journalism that unites those who’ve been called to the truth-telling profession he told me, “Journalism has been called the first rough draft of history (Alan Barth and Phil Graham, Washington Post) but it is also the world’s greatest spectator sport. Aside from thrill of being where important things happen, reporters get to ask questions many people want answered and be close enough for an unvarnished view of what really is going on.”
The military, no matter the branch, forever unties active duty members and their families. For some families, military service is a family career. The bond that develops between those who serve our country lasts long after they’ve hung up their uniform. It’s true that a career in the military involves many experiences that would be considered challenging at best, and undesirably life-changing at their worst. Yet, these common experiences create bonds that unite all who serve.
Shortly after I started the Secret Society of Happy People, I met with one of my career mentors, Larry, who’d been in the Army during Vietnam. As you may guess, we were talking about happiness and how happy moments can happen in even the most unlikely places. In hindsight, he said, “Even though that war was a horrible experience, when I think back on it, some of my best times happened with the guys in my unit.”
When I sold office supplies for Staples, one day I cold called a one-man CPA office and met Bob. Shortly into our chitchat, he mentioned that he was also a musician. The passion in his voice when he talked about his musical endeavors said everything – being an accountant was his vocation, but not his profession. His profession was music. I asked, “How did a musician became an accountant?” He basically said, “It paid the bills better than music did.”
Sometimes the professions that resonate with our soul may or may not pay the bills, so our vocation needs to be something else. Our profession may simply be a source of extra money – or none at all – but it’s what we perceive is our life’s work. This happens for many artists, including authors, actors, painters and others. Our profession may be something bigger than what we do to earn a living.
My friend Manasa, a nurse, told me, “What unifies nurses is the satisfaction and happiness they get from making a difference in someone’s life.”
Nurses, even if they change careers, always identify with their years in patient care. If they change jobs, they usually pick something that also helps other people. The unifying factor is that their soul calling to help others influences their careers.
When I met Captain Poset before boarding my flight to DFW from Washington, DC, he shared that he was formerly in the military. It wasn’t a surprise that his second profession is also one that unites. He let me take a selfie of him with his co-pilot, and then he took one of me in his seat. I must confess that brief moment in the pilot’s seat gave me a bit of the flying bug. I secretly wished I could have been upgraded to the jump seat in the cockpit.
When I asked my pilot friend Javier why he thinks this profession creates strong bonds, he said, “Pilots bond because they share a passion for adventure. There’s no greater adventure than being in control of a flying machine because that feels like magic.”
Our local police-people have one of the most diverse jobs available. They do everything from writing traffic tickets, to crowd control, to handling family disputes, to helping or comforting people, to literally chasing bad guys, to homeland security and, to community relations. The uncertainty of their jobs is everything from challenging, to invigorating, to rewarding. They can be called upon to make life or death decisions at a moment’s notice. The diverse experiences that those in law enforcement share creates a bond with each other no matter if they change job titles, industries, or employers. The underlying principles of serving and protecting is a lifelong unifier.
My teacher friend Crystal says, “There’s no such thing as a boring day at work when you’re a teacher! The element of surprise, the joy of discovery, and the support given make teaching a worthwhile profession that forever bonds those who chose it.”
Teachers never stop teaching no matter where they work because teaching is more than a job — it’s a calling. Teachers incorporate their love of learning and sharing it with others no matter where they work. They want to help others grow.
When I think about these professions where there’s such a strong bonds, I notice a few commonalities:
1. Their job tasks are varied and diverse – so they probably don’t get bored (but possibly burned out).
2. They serve and inspire others – they have a purpose that’s more than making money.
3. Their job tasks require them to interact with other people.
What professions do you think happily unite people and why? Have you worked in a #HappinessUnites Profession? Leave your comments below! I’d love to read them!