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Daily Leadership Thought #192 – You Should Enjoy Your Work

August 11, 2011

Free Young woman in casual clothes helping senior man in formal shirt with paying credit card in Internet using laptop while sitting at table Stock Photo

I woke up this morning excited about some work I am doing for a client instead of being worried or anxious about it or worse not caring.  I began thinking through all the separate ways I could help them and how much fun this could be – it was energizing.  Since I am fortunate to be selective about who I work with, I also have the benefit of genuinely caring about this person and their company.  It always feels good to be of assistance to people you like, admire and respect.   I cannot imagine doing work that doesn’t matter to me or benefits someone else who deserves it.

Far too many people do not like their work.  I have heard estimates as high as 90%.  Anecdotally, I’ve certainly had more conversations over the years that are negative rather than positive about what my friends, colleagues and acquaintances do for a living.  I always find this sad.  We spend so much time at work and how we feel about it can make a substantial difference to how we view life and ourselves in general.  I am not naive enough to think that everyone will like his or her work all the time.  For many of us it is a job not a vocation.  However, there should be some elements about what you do and the people you work with should make you feel self-satisfiedIt’s not critical that you always look forward to going to work, but you shouldn’t dread it.  Moreover, once there you should certainly make the most of it – attitude does matter.

Over 12 years ago I decided I needed to pursue my own path rather than follow in someone else’s footsteps.  It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one.  Prior to this point, I was lucky and mostly had good bosses and mentors.  I also usually found something positive in the work I was doing for others, especially after getting my MBA.   Since 2002, it has been even better.  Why? Because I took control of my own destiny and decided to make how I feel about my work an even higher priority.

I understand that not everyone is made to be self-employed.  In fact, most people shouldn’t even try it.  However, each of us can still decide who we work for and to a large degree what we do for a living.  Don’t become caught in a self-imposed trap.  If you box yourself in with financial or logistical constraints, you have no one to blame but yourself.  Try and limit these barriers to the best of your ability – be flexible.  Look for ways to cultivate rather than compartmentalize your passions and talents.  The world is still full of opportunity despite what the media would like us to believe. You can reinvent yourself and how you feel about your work if you choose to.  Happy people make proactive choices that create the conditions to make them feel this way.