Work to Live or Live to Work with Javan Bernakevitch

There are many reasons that we can do something. To survive, to get paid, to compete, to make ourselves better, to achieve a goal, to seek fulfillment, the list goes….

All valid reasons. None of them more universally right than another.

Some are more applicable to some people at a given time in a given situation. It all comes down to context. It comes down to what are you seek.

Something short term and material, something quantifiable, or something bigger, something bigger than yourself that you really can’t put a finger on…

To further explore this idea, let’s go to the classic fable of the Three Stone Cutters as told by then Harvard University president Drew Faust…

“A man came across three stonecutters and asked them what they were doing. The first replied, “I am making a living.” The second kept on hammering while he said, “I am doing the best job of stonecutting in the entire county.” The third looked up with a visionary gleam in his eye and said, “I am building a cathedral.”
The first stonecutter is simply doing a day’s work for a day’s pay, for the material reward he receives in exchange for his labor. The substance of his work, the purpose of his work, the context of his work do not matter.

The second stonecutter has higher aspirations. He wants to be the best. The second stonecutter is an unshakable individualist. He believes in the power of the human mind, and its capacity for reason, in the drive for quality and results, and in the usefulness of reducing complex reality to a simple equation. His world is competitive and meritocratic. It is cosmopolitan; he measures himself against the “whole county” as the story has it—even the whole world.

Yet somehow the vision of the second stonecutter is also incomplete. The focus on the task, the competition, the virtuosity, is a kind of blindness. Consumed with individual ambition, the second stonecutter misses the fundamental interconnectedness of human kind, of societies and of economies. This stonecutter fails to see that there would be no stones to cut if there were not a community building a cathedral.

The third stonecutter embraces a broader vision. The very menial work of stonecutting becomes part of a far larger undertaking, a spiritual as well as a physical construction. This project aspires to the heavens, transcending the earthbound—and indeed transcending the timebound as well, for cathedrals are built not in months or even years, but over centuries. A lifetime of work may make only a small contribution to a structure that unites past and future, connects humans across generations and joins their efforts to purposes they see as far larger than themselves.”

An idea that we will explore in this episode.

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Notes from the conversation with Javan Bernakevitch

  • “Seek voluntary simplicity, but not while reducing the quality of life.”
  • “Whatever our dreams are, there is a maintenance cost to our dreams both to bring it to fruition and also once it comes to pass.”
  • “Everything in life is negotiable.”



For more information on Javan’s upcoming online course and book visit: All Points Life Design

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