In 1970, Stephen Stills sang a song reminding us that if we can’t be with the one we love, we should love the one we’re with. It is a timeless message that echoes through the literature and songs of virtually every spiritual tradition – from love your enemies to love is all you need. And in these days of division and polarization, it’s a message we need to remember and heed.
There is an analogous message in the world of work. I am a big believer in finding and doing work you love to do. But I’m also realistic enough to know it’s not always possible for people to find, or to create, their “dream jobs.”
And I know from the daily personal experience of managing the Values Coach Corporation that even for those of us who are fortunate enough to love our work, there’s still an awful lot of work that must be done which is very difficult to love. But that work must be done in order to earn the right to do the work you do love.
And this is where Stephen Stills’ message applies to us in our everyday work. If you can’t be doing the work you love, then love the work you do. Do it for yourself and your own happiness. Do it so you don’t drag home bitterness and resentment at the end of each day to inflict upon your family. Do it so you don’t infect your coworkers with your negativity. Does it because a country full of disengaged workers will not compete in a global economy against countries where workers are engaged.
The Gallup poll shows that the current percentage employees who are truly engaged with their work is only 29%. According to Gallup, fully 54% of workers are not engaged (i.e. they are just going through the motions, sleepwalking their way through each day), while an appalling 17% of employees are actively disengaged (these are the ones who actively seek to undermine their organizations – and in the process threaten the security of their own jobs and those of coworkers).
I understand the excuses someone might give for not making the effort to put love into their work. Sure, you might think you’re underpaid – love the work anyway. Sure, the CEO might be overpaid – don’t do it for him or her, do it for yourself, for your family and for your coworkers.
Some 2,500 years ago, a very wise man named Ecclesiastes discovered, after a lifetime of searching, that the secret to a fulfilled life is this: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. If you can’t be doing the work you love, love the work that’s been put before your hand to be done.
By Joe Tye