Conversations on planes usually turn to what we each do for a living. But after learning about someone’s occupation, I like to follow up with this probing question, “Do you love it?” This inquiry feels like a natural one to ask, but for some reason, it always takes people off-guard. And sadly, of the hundreds of times I’ve asked it, no one has ever answered with an immediate, enthusiastic, “YES. Yes I do!”
I’ve heard things like, “I love the IDEA of my job” or “I guess I like some of the things that I get to do.”
Today, I thought for sure that I would hear a resounding, “YES!” because, for the first time, I sat next to a pilot. This is the kind of job 8-year-olds dream of. But sadly, for the rest of the flight, he listed policies, procedures, and poor management that suck the joy out of his work.
At one point he said, “Let me put it this way. If I won the Mega Millions Lottery, I would never pilot another commercial plane.”
Any Job Can Be Loved
I am convinced that almost any job can be loved. In Linchpin, Seth Godin lists examples of employees in all types of industries and positions who bring their all to their work.
It has always been important for me to love what I do. I vividly remember my high school graduation when I made a commitment to myself that I would pursue a career I would love with my whole heart.
And I’ve stayed true to that commitment. On more than one occasion, I’ve left great paying roles for positions paying half as much (or less) because I was more passionate about what I could do in the new role. And I have no regrets for any of those decisions.
Pursuing my passion in work has never failed me. It’s why I’m in marketing and Journey Mapping today. I love it and that drive is obvious to people who know me (or get stuck next to me on a plane).
An Essential Part of Leadership
Because I focus on my own passion so much, it should not be surprising to learn that one of the core goals I focus on as a leader is to help each person on my team love their job. I tell them that at every one-on-one meeting and I mean it.
I probe to find out what might be stealing their joy. I try to find ways that I can help them advance their skills and their career. I ask about their interests and do my best to make it so that if anyone ever asks them if they love it, they would immediately, without hesitation, say with honest enthusiasm, “Yes. Yes I do!”
This management style seems like common sense to me but, I’ve been told by many team members (often in tears) that they’ve never had a boss treat them this way before.
Even though I’m convinced that any job can be loved, I have to acknowledge the results from this casual survey I’ve been taking throughout the years. Most people don’t love their jobs.
There are many reasons for sure (including being underpaid, underappreciated, overworked, etc.) and I don’t intend to list them all but I believe that poor leadership is one of the root causes of this epidemic.
It is difficult to find passion in your work when you are poorly “managed” by someone who isn’t invested in you.
This is why I love to lead. It is a great privilege with a huge responsibility and thankfully, there are many excellent resources out there that can turn a “Manager” into a skillful, empathetic, and effective “Leader.”
I’m convinced that a good leader can help just about anyone love just about any job. Are you that kind of leader? Do you work for that kind of leader?
Let me ask you, “Do you love it?”