We hear more and more about happiness at work, as people increasingly look to their work to be something more than an annoyance they deal with in exchange for a paycheck. The workplace for many people is not where they go to work, but where they go to fulfill dreams and aspirations, and where they are ultimately happy. And many people who aren’t happy blame their jobs for that.
However, happiness is not something I ask of my job, or of my customers, or co-workers, or of my paycheck.
I recently had a colleague tell me that when I’m facilitating a leadership workshop, I do so with love – a love that he said is evident to the people in the room. And this lovely compliment made me think about love as the fuel for what I do – as the driving force or purpose for my work. And for me, having love as the foundational goal of my work is much more meaningful than if my goal were to be happy.
I want to bring love into the open as the driving force that creates a great working experience. Love for the product you’re selling, love for the community you’re in service to, love for the crossing off of tasks on your to-do list, love for the paycheck that sustains you, love for the opportunity to make deep and meaningful connections with people. Love for yourself as you show up as the best person you can. Love for your failures and your mistakes. Love for that annoying co-worker. Love, love, love.
Love isn’t always happy, and thank God for that because happiness without love sounds like the most mundane of experiences. Love is hard, and infuriating, and challenging, and sad. Love is what drives vision, and change, and creativity. Love is what makes us want to pay the price for doing something worthwhile. Love is what makes us call out the best in others, and to challenge them to live better lives.
I can already hear the chorus of people who would protest, saying “but I don’t love the product I’m selling, I don’t love the people I work with, I don’t love my office, and I don’t love my paycheck. My boss is a jerk, the commute is brutal, the pay is unfairly distributed
So, fine, but what would happen if you chose to love all of these things – all of them, all the time, every day? What would your work be like if it was fueled by love? You might not be happy, but you will end your days knowing that something significant happened for you while you were spinning on this little planet. And maybe, some will say, that’s happiness. And perhaps it is. But for me, I know love comes first.