Why is it that so many people in today’s world view hard work as the antitheses to success? In the eyes of many, it seems like unless you are off sailing the world, lying on a beach, playing tons of golf, and living a life of leisure, you might actually be failing. So, what’s the result of this type of thinking? And, better yet, how successful is it in, well, actually achieving success?
I often come across people on an ongoing quest to accumulate wealth, while limiting their involvement with actual work. Their ultimate goal is to live life to the fullest by avoiding too much responsibility that comes with the word. So, what happens next? Well, quite often, these same people end up calling a career and executive coach, like me, feeling “stuck.”
“I can’t seem to get my career on-track,” they’ll say, or, “why am I not getting my business to the next level?” Ironically, as it turns out, the very effort to avoid work, actually becomes more draining than leaning into the work itself! It really seems like many of us would greatly benefit from a new outlook when it comes to our work.
I love this quote from Kahlil Gibran's timeless work, The Prophet, which states, "work is love made visible." To me, this means that when we view work through the lens of enthusiasm, it suddenly shifts from a necessary evil of "have to," to the very thing that connects us with who we want to be, and how we want to live.
In fact, our work, no matter what type – paid, volunteer, in the home or outside of it, is what delivers personal value, which creates much of the rich life experiences that we seek. Work is what connects us with people, new ideas, and often takes us to far away and interesting places that we would have never encountered without a pure willingness to engage in it.
And, it’s not our work’s job to make us love it; but rather, our choice as to whether or not we allow our work to hold any sort of meaning for us – whether that involves taking-on new challenges, stretching ourselves, learning new things, or simply connecting with different people.
So, here are 7 reasons why I think it’s time that many of us stop cursing the concept of work:
1) Work is our connection with the rest of humanity.
It joins us with other people and aids us to collaborate and contribute our efforts, in meaningful ways, to the world at large.
2) Work is our best platform for developing our personal potential.
It’s easy to get caught-up in the idea that hard work and labor are a burden to our lives, rather than viewing opportunities to work as a gifted playing field for us to develop our highest potentials, and experience new perspectives with people who we may not otherwise know.
Work is also commonly viewed as purely a means to an end, or a place to merely pick-up a paycheck in order to put food on the table. While this is a clear and necessary benefit of much work, our ability to find meaning within our work, allows us to express and manifest our purposes here on Earth. And, once we do that, the rewards are bound to match our efforts – and quite often, in ways that span far and beyond mere material benefits.
3) Work is one of the best remedies for overcoming thoughts of personal deficiencies and fear.
Why? Because it connects us with others in meaningful ways, and gets us out of our own heads through participation with the living, all while experiencing the benefits of tangible results.
To really love ourselves, we need to know ourselves. We can only know ourselves if we are in touch with our own personal value and purpose. Work, no matter what kind, provides us with a perfect platform to express our value, while noticing our contributions and developing our own self worth.
4) Acquiring knowledge requires both urge and level of effort, or yes, actual work.
In other words, applying ourselves as curious students to learn whatever we don’t already know is a necessary function of getting what we want. Meanwhile, sitting on high pedestals and “willing things to the universe” without any backup of effort, rarely results in much. On that note, here’s a great article by my fellow coach and writer, Karen Sullivan called "Passion...It isn't Enough."
5) Loving what we do is merely a function of how we choose to show-up for our work.
Finding love in our work may require us to show-up differently and search for new ways to grow, develop and expand ourselves with whatever we do each day. Quite often, it’s not the job that is no longer serving us, but us who have chosen not to serve the job with our whole hearts and passion. What would happen if we did?
6) Opportunity blossoms from hard work and effort, regardless of the position, title or pay scale.
Ironically, opportunities for more interesting responsibilities, higher titles and pay, all grow from the rich soils of putting a little love into whatever we do, no matter what we do. Simply put, people notice when we pour our passions into our work, regardless of our roles, and our work is more prone to get acknowledged, when it is produced from a place of enthusiasm, versus indifference.
7) Indifference towards our work is ineffective.
If we are truly indifferent towards our work, then it’s worth finding new work that is more aligned with the hidden urges and desires that inevitably reside inside of us. We either find ways to love what we do, whatever it is we do, or the outcome of all our efforts will get us stuck in an endless cycle of futile indifference, which only leads to long-term stress, resentment and unhappiness.
When you take note of your own indifference or resentment towards your work, assign yourself the first new job of scheduling time with people who exemplify passion for their work, and open your eyes to a new perspective about it. After all, work will always be a necessary evil for those who chose to view it that way.
So, what new decisions might you, or someone else you know, make by viewing work with a little more love? And, how might these decisions impact your success and contentment, at this very moment?