*Pencil: I’m sorry.
Eraser: For What? You didn’t do anything wrong?
Pencil: I’m sorry, you get hurt because of me. Whenever I made a mistake, you’re always there to erase it. But as you make my mistakes vanish, you lose a part of yourself and get smaller and smaller each time.
Eraser: That’s true, but I don’t really mind. You see, I was made to do this. I was made to help you whenever you do something wrong, even though one day I know I’ll be gone. I’m happy with my job. So please, stop worrying. I hate to see you sad.”
*Story from “Top 100 Motivational Stories: The Best Inspirational Short Stories and Anecdotes of All Time”
Are you an eraser? Oh absolutely yes, right?! Perhaps that’s immediately where your brain went when reading this. But I wonder….have you ever been a pencil? I have absolutely been a pencil and I am so grateful to the erasers in my life – I’m thinking of my amazing Mom and Dad, my boxing coach – Bill Wrable, my ninth grade Psychology teacher – Mr. Weaver, my Dissertation Chair -Dr. Richard Hazler, my boss for my summer job building houses John Caprio, and so many more. Man, am I ever grateful to them for all that they have invested in me. I bet you’ve got a long list as well – it is hard to be successful without at least a few erasers in your life.
But all that said, I wonder if you, like me, find it hard to be an eraser sometimes? Maybe it makes it a bit easier thinking about those erasers in my own past. But what else makes it easier? Certainly, it helps when our kids, students, athletes let us know how much they appreciate us. For every one that says it, there are likely dozens more who appreciate you just as much, but are too distracted or perhaps just not confident enough to know how to express their appreciation appropriately. What else can help when you are feeling a bit diminished by the tasks at hand? Let’s go back to the story for a minute – remember what the eraser said? “…I don’t mind. You see, I was made to do this….” Keeping that thought at the front of your mind can be a powerful way to fuel the selfless work you do. Being mindful of your calling can be an almost limitless source of energy and inspiration. And research absolutely supports this claim. Researchers have found that people who approach work as “calling” report greater work and life satisfaction, greater commitment to their profession, greater self-concept, more effective, problem-solving abilities, and significantly less stress and depression. Maybe you and I can keep this in mind next time we are experiencing the uncomfortable grind that comes with being an eraser.