the torch Summer 2016, Issue 2 - Page 4

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT In 2008, researchers at Washington University conducted a survey on behalf of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). The survey’s purpose was both to assist the AAZK in understanding its membership and to promote academic research on highly committed professionals. They studied zookeepers because, despite low salaries and limited opportunities for advancement, for most it was primarily about their love of the job. The researchers established several findings from their work. The most compelling was that a strong sense of “calling” was central to how zookeepers felt. To feel called is to feel that one is “meant” to work in a particular occupational role because of a unique background, personal passion and/or the possession of a natural ability or quality. The work suggests that individuals who identify work as a calling have a different perspective. Despite degrees of personal sacrifice, having a sense of calling can give life meaning and purpose. Zookeepers believe their work gives them personal identification, meaning and importance. 4 The sacrifices include compromises on pay, personal time and comfort. “People will work hard for money; they will work harder for other people. But people will work hardest of all when they are dedicated to a cause.” While money is the economic incentive and other people offer socioemotional compensation like recognition, esteem, status, friendship. The ideological incentives – values, mission, purpose and conviction – come from the dedication to a cause. For zookeepers, the ideological incentives prevailed. People who view their work as a calling are unique. They generally find more meaning and identification in their profession. They view the world through an ethical lens. They hold very high expectations for their organizations. In today’s world, people find it increasingly more difficult to maintain connections between themselves and their work. The power of a calling is that it makes a person’s work morally inseparable from his or her life; it incorporates the self into a community whose activity has meaning and value in it. You can find people with a sense of calling in just about any work setting. Ultimately, it has more to do with conviction than context. It has been my good fortune to have worked with several of these individuals at Baylor. Not surprisingly, recent job solicitation ads that we have run suggest: “Here, you’ll learn the difference between being a health care provider and being one who truly serves others. You’ll have more than just a job at Baylor Scott & White Health; you’ll find your calling”. Any job can be seen as a calling as long as the individual integrates work into their life, imbuing it with one’s own values and sense of purpose. What’s your calling? Rowland K. Robinson President Baylor Health Care System Foundation Rowland.Robinson@BSWHealth.org