Love What You Do…And Who You Do It With
Love is not a word you often encounter in any professional context. This little four-letter word has been so hitched to feelings of passion that it feels inappropriate to even bring it up in a workplace setting. Unless, of course, you are talking about being passionate about your job. Then we can parrot the word ‘love’ all day until the moon turns blue.
There is a popular quote about loving what you do; you know the one – love what you do, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Though I agree 100%, I would like to think there is a missing piece to that puzzle. You see, whatever career you may have chosen for yourself, you will more than likely be required to interact with people in some way. Hence, the missing piece I would add is, “love what you do, and who you do it with.”
First, let us talk about loving what you do.
Love What You Do
This is the part that is in the quote. Loving what you do is paramount to feeling happy and fulfilled with your work. The law allows Americans to work from the time they are fourteen right until they reach 66 years and 2 months (do not forget the 2 months, that is important). Most people start working between the ages of 20 – 25, going on well into their sixties. Hence, the average person will work for about 44 years and two months (again, that two months!). If the average person lives to be 79 years, it means we spend about 55% of our lives working.
That is the reason why loving what you do is so important. Imagine spending half your life going to a job you hate and interacting with people you could not care less about. This is what makes for grumpy old people in my book. Those that have lived their lives pursuing their dreams and doing what they genuinely found appealing are more likely to live out the remainder of their years with happiness and contentment.
On this issue, it is important to note that people love what they do for different reasons. Going with the norm, loving what you do would mean having a zeal for your chosen field of work. You feel a burning passion for pursuing a certain path, and you go at it with everything you have. You find that one industry that really gets your engine going, and you are sure beyond all doubt that this would be the most fulfilling thing you ever get to do.
However, there are other reasons why people fall in love with what they do. For some, they simply love it when things work (excuse the pun). If a career path suits their personal goals and disposition, it does not matter if they do not feel a burning passion for it like an entrepreneur would. If it gives them a steady income, improves their quality of life and allows them to care for their families, they are happy. Usually, such a choice can be viewed as “settling”. The reality is, though, we all fall in love with our careers for different reasons, whether it is because of passion or because of utility.
Hence, it is important that you figure out what you love, and why you love it. If you need to feel a strong sense of passion for your career, that is perfectly fine. If you love your career simply because of its utility in your life, guess what, that is not settling. That’s love too.
Now for the second part of the equation.
Love Who You Do It With
No matter how much you love your job, if your work culture is toxic, you will soon get drained and your job will feel like a burden. Conversely, when the workplace promotes a culture of love and care among colleagues, the employees within it tend to perform above standard.
One of the most popular studies on the matter was conducted by Sigal Barsade (Professor of Management at Wharton) and Olivia A. O’Neill (Senior Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being). The study, titled What’s Love Got to Do With It?: The Influence of a Culture of Companionate Love in the Long-term Care Setting, found that employees who feel loved at their workplace perform better than those who don’t.
The survey also revealed that employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture showed up to work more often and experienced more satisfaction with their work.
Love in the workplace can be a dicey subject, what with all the sexual harassment cases that arise in the corporate world. However, loving and caring for your colleagues does not mean you have to engage in inappropriate behavior. You do not have to go around handing out hugs and touching people (especially during this pandemic!).
Instead, show your affection by engaging in open dialogue and remaining open-minded, even when you do not agree with your colleagues. You can also show your love for your workmates by asking them questions and paying attention to them, listening to their concerns and respecting their opinions.
All in all, love is a universal reality that is integral to the human experience. It is high time we stopped making it a taboo in the workplace and actively worked towards promoting it for healthier, stronger work culture.