TPS Benchmarking

Work is Love Made Visible

By Jon Miller Published on September 30th, 2007

In his 1923 book The Prophet, Lebanese American poet and artist and visionary Kahlil Gibran wrote Work is love made visible.
What if love is not visible in work? What if you do not love what you do? Perhaps according to Kahlil Gibran, this is not work. It may be “labor” but not work. Your work may not be in your job in which you labor, but elsewhere. If work is love made visible, we need to spend our labor and time where that love is visible.
The Toyota Production System is “problems made visible.” In Toyota parlance “no problem” is a problem. The Toyota Production System or a Lean management system is not functioning properly if problems do not become immediately visible. The Lean management system supports and rewards exposing problems so that they can be addressed. Lean management is problems made visible. I am sure Mr. Gibran would not approve.
Taiichi Ohno said “Wasted motion is not work.” Likewise, if we consider the frustration, boredom or lack of passion that many McJobs inspire today, perhaps we can combine the wisdom of Ohno and Gibran to say “Wasted emotion is not work.”
Work is people, process and profit all working in harmony. The broadest possible definition of profit must be used, to include financial reward, personal fulfillment, and harmony with our surroundings. If work is love made visible we should strive for nothing less.
For those interested in poetry, the following is a longer excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:

Then a plowman said, “Speak to us of work.”
And he answered, saying:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison? Always you have been told that work is a curse and labor a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, and in keeping yourself with labor you are in truth loving life, and to love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary. And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, and all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, and all knowledge is vain save when there is work, and all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God. And what is it to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth. It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house. It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit. It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching. Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who plows the soil. And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving. Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Have something to say?

Leave your comment and let's talk!

Start your Lean & Six Sigma training today.