I’m sure you have heard the Confucian quote
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Every day, you and I are subject to a fairly constant stream of stories about how visionary entrepreneurs and fearless professionals have found success by pursuing their passions and encouraging us to do the same.
I often think about the experiences of the people who touch my life over the course of an ordinary day. You know, the young man who poured my coffee at Stumptown Coffee Roasters yesterday morning, the three guys who for the last four days have been laboring in the hot sun to install a new patio at my neighbor’s house, the woman at the pet food store, our financial advisor, the guys who collect our garbage and recycling, my dermatologist. Are these folks passionate about their work? Probably not.
And if they are, do they approach their jobs with the kind of unbridled enthusiasm they bring to the things they really are passionate about? Their families? Their faith? Their hobbies? Well… maybe.
But that’s OK. Really. The simple fact is that the vast majority of us do work we have to do so we can live the lives we want to live. The trick is finding the passion in whatever you’re doing.
If your experiences have been anything like mine, at various times in your career you have struggled, compromised, gotten frustrated, been under-used, overworked and overlooked, and every now and then…knocked it out of the park.
At the same time, you’ve met amazing, wonderful, smart, funny and generous people. Been mentored in countless ways how to – and how not to – manage a project or staff and run a business. You’ve taken on challenges that made you work harder than you thought you could and gotten smarter and more resilient because of it. Pretty great, amazing stuff.
The Papa Murphy’s take-n-bake pizza place in our neighborhood is very, very busy. On weekend evenings, they might have four or five people squeezed in at the assembly line with two or three people doing prep work in the back. Others are scurrying to answer the phones, serve walk-ins and work the drive through. It’s nuts.
In the midst of this bedlam, the entire staff remains unflappably friendly and courteous. They answer the phones quickly and warmly. They greet each walk-in with an honest, welcoming smile. And they are all equipped to help customers with helpful tips and advice. It’s obvious that everyone respects her coworker and, believe it or not, actually enjoys the work, even if they’re not passionate about it. We love it, and we keep going back (thus this article in a “marketing” blog).
My wife and I are so impressed by the place and its team, we have actually had conversations about it. Many of our experiences at fine restaurants and resorts – as well as with other merchants and professional service providers – don’t measure up to the standard this small take-n-bake pizza branch sets.
The good work, happy people and great customer experiences at my neighborhood pizza place have a few lessons for both employers and employees who are interested in finding something to be passionate about.
Have a Big, Bold vision
People aren’t motivated by the work, they’re motivated by the product of the work.
Management has to have a vision and must share it. It’s not about pizza. It’s about taking a load off a busy mom or dad so they can spend more time with their kids. It’s about fun and nourishment. It’s about believing in the product and having respect for the customers who choose it. It’s also about respect for your coworkers and vendors. Make the vision as big and bold as it deserves to be. Then share it, share it, share it. Make it your mantra. Believe it and your people will believe it.
If you’re doing a job, it’s a job that needs doing.
The people you serve, whether they’re aware of you or not, are depending on you. Your coworkers are also depending on you, not only to carry your share of the load, but to be a responsible member of the workplace community. Be friendly and supportive. Take pride in your contribution and always look for ways to improve. I learned lessons dumping garbage at Sears in Spokane, Washington when I was in high school that serve me to this very day.
Find Ways to Celebrate
You don’t need me to tell you that work can be a grind, but it’s amazing how even the smallest celebration can pull people out of the stress of their workday.
- Catch people doing something right and thank them personally and publicly.
- Be clear about goals and get loud when they’re reached, really loud when they’re exceeded.
- When you finish a particularly challenging day or project, thank the whole team. Be specific about the standout contributions from you star players. They deserve it, and it helps your bench players set their aspirations.
If you are among the fortunate few who loves your work so much it doesn’t even seem like work, I am thrilled for you. I would love for you to share your experience in comments. For those of us who find the passion where we can, I’d love to know more about how you bring your best every day, even when it really feels like work. Either way, you’re getting it done.