Written on April 14, 2011 by Charlie in Employee Engagement, Theory
Long long ago, Confucius planted in our heads that if you “choose a job you love…you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius said a lot of good stuff, but on this one I pretty much think he was full of crap. In fact, if I hear one more person say or read one more “I love my job” tweet I might very well fall prey to uncontrollable fits of gagging. Really? You love your job? How sad for you.
Alright, wait a second, let me take that back. I’m actually happy for you. I mean that’s really cool that you can actually have “affection for…take great pleasure in…[maybe even] require” something that you are “expected or obliged to do” or something that is “your duty; responsibility.” I once thought it was absolutely impossible to truly love a job. It seemed amiss…like it just wasn’t meant to be. Now I’m not too sure. I’ve run into a lot of people – as I’ve greatly expanded my network and exposure over the last couple of years – who I think actually love their jobs. Almost as if it was at their core. Are they faking it? Some…yes. Are some fooled? Sure. But all of them? No, I don’t think so.
Part of my problem is that I tend to view love as a finite resource…only so much to go around. And if that’s the case, why the hell would I use all of my love up on my job? But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe love really is boundless. Maybe I can really love my family, my dog, the beach, smoked baby back ribs…and still have enough for my job. I mean, I already “get tremendous satisfaction” from my job. I’m already “passionate about it.” I’m certainly “in-like with it.” What’s so wrong with loving it? Why couldn’t I work at and commit myself to loving it? Well, there are some risks to loving. I suppose ‘loving your job’ can start to border on cultish at some point. I suppose it can start to interfere with other (more important) relationships. It could become all consuming…a drug, or a mistress. And then there’s the chance I’ll just get let down at some point…left in the dust. The French Proverb, “love makes time pass; time makes love pass” sometimes rings all too true. And even if it doesn’t pass, it sure can be volatile…exhausting even. Lynda Barry said, “love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke.”
The other problem is that I’ve spent a lot of time running around looking for the right job opportunities that may just lead to love. Like it’s the job’s fault I don’t love it. Now that I reflect on it, that doesn’t seem very fair. Francesca Aguado warns us that “if you spend your life trying to find the perfect ‘one’, you’ll find it too late.” Maybe it’s futile – the ‘perfect’ job doesn’t really exist. It’s what we make of it…it’s how we learn to love it. Like an arranged marriage, almost. Or in the timeless words of Crosby Stills and Nash, “love the one you’re with.”
I don’t know. Love is confusing. And it’s hard. I’m still not sure I’m ready to grant that precious emotion to my job. But I’m going to stop judging you for loving yours. After all, “if [you] love…what business is it of [mine]?”*
*Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Image Credit: 49th-parallel
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