Thanks to everyone for your comments on my last post, where I talked about my two sons and cautioned against holding out to “do what you love.” Instead, I’ve come to believe there’s a real need to learn how to “love what you do.”
Early in my career, I constantly looked to see what next the company would provide for me. Better health benefits and dental care, a great physical work environment, retirement plans… I think there are many people (like me) who want to know what a company can provide them.
But, here’s another trap – one I recognized in myself years ago.
It’s less about everything my company can do for me, and more about me making more of an investment in my career along the way. This switch in my head to one of – gratitude – helped me focus more on my development and accountability for my own success. My dad used to say, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”
Hmmm… pretty true, I think.
Doing different jobs, asking for more and different work – these all help earn credibility – in the eyes of your company and your coworkers, but more importantly – in your own eyes. Sinking yourself into a new and different role or job or assignment helps fuel passion for learning, AND it makes you more valuable to the organization.
During my time with American Family, I’ve had many different jobs. And within those jobs, I’ve worked to carve out something positive and differentiating. In my first year in nearly every new job I’ve had, it was the tough. Will I be able to help our customers the right way? Our agents? My co-workers? It’s hard work! Doubt creeps in and you begin to wonder, “Am I going to succeed at this? Am I up for the challenge?”
Over time, I began to embrace these challenges and find the mindset of learning to love what I do.
Mike Rowe, who I referenced in my last post, summed it up well following criticism he received for encouraging a young man to stop following his passion. “When it comes to earning a living and being a productive member of society, I don’t think people should limit their options to those vocations they feel passionate towards,” Rowe says. Pursuing those opportunities only makes sense “if you’re headed in a sensible direction,” he says. “Because passion and persistence – while most often associated with success – are also essential ingredients of futility.”
This doesn’t mean you have to settle… for something less… away from your dreams. But, my point to my sons – and to today’s leaders – is to be prepared to take on those unexpected roles that come your way. And maybe, through hard work and development, you’ll find the passion in what you do – and not just enjoy it, but truly love it. Yes, sometimes you might have to grin and bear it. But the investment you make in your future, and the mindset you create, will pay off over the course of your career.