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  May 20, 2011
Building a Cathedral...

There is an old story that describes three bricklayers working together out on a large construction project.  

A tourist who happened by, asked the first bricklayer what he was doing and the first bricklayer replied, "I’m laying bricks 8-hours a day for $100.00 a day". 

The tourist then asked the second bricklayer what he was doing and he replied, "I’m making sure we are following the proper specifications and doing a quality job here".

The tourist then asked the third bricklayer what he was doing and he replied, "I’m building a cathedral for God".  

Over the course of the last week, I found myself on vacation from my normal daily activities such as office and house work.  The setting was spectacular in Northern Europe.  Each town and city was more picturesque than the next.   

My travel companion (my girlfreind Susan) was patient, adventureous, and loving.  We spent time with old friends and met new ones along the way.

We toured enchanted places, dined at nice restaurants and small bistros, visited national treasures and of course cathedrals.

The weather was beautiful...not too warm or cold with no rain for the entire seven days.

Yet with all the makings of an incredible memorable trip, I found myself in severe pain most days due to a flair up of an arthritic toe (gout) that caused me to chew pain killers like they were mints.  In addition, l found myself fighting off a lingering upper respiratory infection which was causing me to cough incessantly during the entire trip (albeit much less towards the end than the beginning).  

In short, the places, people and weather conditions were the best anyone could hope for but if you don’t have your health...it’s much harder to enjoy the bounty placed in front of you.  I suppose that this experience is just a fore-shadowing of the autumn and winter years ahead of me as I approach the ripe old age of a half-century later this year.

This experience has also given me reason for reflection.  I recall my days back in college studying introductory psychology. 

Abraham Maslow, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1908.  He was a professor at Brandeis and Columbia Universities for most of his life.  He was the founder of Humanistic Psychology and created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The hierarchy of needs is a visualization of human needs beginning with basic human physiological needs at the bottom of the pyramid, such as food, water, shelter, and health and rising to a level of self-actualization where morality and creativity become dominant.  Only when the lower levels of needs are fulfilled, can one rise to a higher level on the pyramid.  


For example, it is hard to enjoy love and friendship (level three) when a person is cold, tired and hungry (level one).

In my experience from last week, it was hard to enjoy the beauty and awe of travel to incredible places when I was barely able to walk with so much pain.

The hierarchy of needs pyramid is also ever-present in the home or the workplace.  In the workplace, the bottom level of the pyramid typically concerns trading time for money.  As the levels rise, so does the complexity.  The next step is job security and benefits followed by responsibility and trust, all the way to the top where the "job" becomes a "purpose".

Maslow at Work

There are many companies and employees who operate toward the bottom of the pyramid (just like the first bricklayer in the story). 

From the employer’s perspective, employees are replaceable and interchangeable.  There are few skills and little training required to perform the basic functions of the position. (Think manual laborer, assembly line worker or fast-food employee).

From the employee’s perspective, these are entry level positions, summer college jobs, or temporary positions in order to pay the rent and buy food.

In the middle of the pyramid, are the companies and employees who think of business in terms of responsibility (like the second brick layer in the story).

On the top of the employment pyramid, are the companies / employees who have successfully committed to a "purpose of being" (the third bricklayer).

These companies / employees are not trying to provide goods and services; they are trying to change the world.  These entities operate at the top of the pyramid.

Since returning to San Diego, I went to see a doctor about my foot.  After a short search, I found a podiatrist who could see me the same day.  The scheduler was extremely pleasant and she quickly understood my predicament.  She found a way to work me into the doctor’s schedule that day.

When I later arrived the medical office, I was given some very basic paperwork to complete and then was led into an examining room where a brief personal interview was conducted by a nurse regarding personal / family medical history and the symptoms that I was suffering from.

The doctor promptly came to the examining room, took a look at my condition, explained his diagnosis, ordered an x-ray to confirm his conclusions, and presented his treatment plan - including an injection that gave me immediate symptom relief.

The entire visit took no longer than 20 minutes and I felt great. 

While I was checking out, I told the scheduler how impressed I was with their medical practice, the skill, efficiency and overall positive experience.

She replied to me that this wasn’t a medical practice but a place where people came to feel better and become healthier.

They understand their purpose...they are building a cathedral...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we believe we are building something better for our customers (and future customers)...


Jim Kalb

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