Desiderata by Max Ehrmann is a 1927 prose poem. "Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things")
7. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
To me, “however humble” is the key phrase in this instruction. It wasn't at first. At first, “Keep interested...” and “It is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” stuck out as the key phrases in this instruction.
But, why would we lose interest in our own career? Because we are unaware of its value, however humble? Or, because we are not sure what the definition of career is?
The following are various definitions of career:
“[A career is] a person's progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking.”
“[A career is] an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.”
“The progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially those related to that person's occupations.”
“A career is often composed of the jobs held, titles earned and work accomplished over a long period of time, rather than just referring to one position.”
“The Difference Between a Career and a Job. ... A job is something you do simply to earn money; people who want a career are always thinking about their long-term goals. The difference between a job and a career is your attitude.”
It never occurred to me before writing this commentary that the Desiderata was probably written with only men in mind. This would be understandable inasmuch as during that time in our society, only men were considered career oriented, and only white men at that. If women worked outside the home, they had jobs, not careers. Their choices were limited by gender. Being a homemaker and mother were not considered real work, but the woman's duty.
Moreover, Max Ehrmann, himself, was cited as claiming that he, at age 55, wrote "this bit of prose" for himself.
I decided to test my presumptions by digging deeper. I discovered that Max Ehrmann married Bertha Pratt King shortly before his death in 1945. She was five years his senior and lived until 1962. She was an accomplished woman – a teacher, a principal of her own school that promoted girls' education, especially on the secondary level, and a Women's Suffrage activist, a movement that lasted 72 years.
Nonetheless, this is the 21st century and we can all benefit from this instruction. When I focus on my career, I'm focusing on myself which provides stability against external forces over which I have no control. This brings to mind the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference.
Keeping interested in our own career is our career. It is our real possession in the changing fortunes of time; therefore, It's our duty and responsibility to define and take charge of our careers, our P.R.I.V.I., so that it is never stagnant, but always evolving and dynamic.
Thank you for reading. What are your thoughts?
Dedicated to my sons Jibri and Chris, my privilege and blessing. EcwmB