This week I met up with 3 school friends after an incredible 41 years! Apart from some hair loss and the odd wrinkle here and there, we were essentially the same guys that went to school together during the late 60’s early 70’s. Incredibly though, we soon picked up from when we last met as if it were only last week.
It did however take us perhaps an hour or so of finding out what we had done over the previous 4 decades. One of the major themes that cropped up was that we have all worked for major corporations and yet now we were all self employed. Why was that? In the main, it was down to interaction with other people at work and not necessarily the job itself. Hidden agendas, strange bosses and egotistical peers had its toil on what we have done on a regular basis to earn the ‘dosh’.
Current HR research shows how many people are disengaged, dissatisfied, and frustrated at work, we wondered if it were possible to simply love what you do in your current job? And therefore, being in charge of your business life/destiny was necessarily a good or great thing? We all thought it was.
Finding a job you love is age-old advice. Confucius probably has the best longstanding quote about “do what you love.” His words, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” have been repeated throughout history.
Or consider Warren Buffett’s words, “Take a job that you love.” And let’s not forget the prolific thoughts of Maya Angelou who said “…pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
Does anyone advocate the opposite approach—telling people to love what they do? We did not have to look far to find the advice of Steve Jobs who said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
Curious about our own experiences in the workplace, we began reviewing previous job titles we have had over the years.
Between the four of us, we’ve held titles like: lawyer, market research manager, property consultant, tax inspector, management consultant, senior auditor, and the list goes on. As we discussed our roles, we couldn’t help but talk about the positions we loved, and those that we knew weren’t the perfect fit. Are we typical of most workers today? Science actually gives us some insight.
The “find a job you love” advice listed above is easy to buy into for those who love their jobs. But for those who still don’t love their work, should they quit their current job and chase the dream of the job they would love? Or can people learn to find meaning and success in their current job? The answer is ‘yes.’
And here’s why.
Research shows that great work (award-winning work) is produced when people focus on doing something others love.
The Great Work Study showed that 88% of projects that earned awards began with an employee asking their own version of the question, “What difference could I make that other people would love?”
However, research is also showing that the trend for youngsters to find a ‘job for life’ following formal education is not necessarily the case anymore. However, trend studies are also showing that they will in all likelihood, not make the decision to try out new employment, or even to work solely for themselves until their mid 30’s.
For us 4 old fogies, we had made the ‘go it alone’ decision at the start of our 50’s, and all of us were very happy to be in that ‘world’.
The bottom line was that although you could enjoy the work in a big corporation, the chances were that the rules, regulations and inter-personal squabbles might knock the icing off that particular cake.
Going it alone is fantastic, as you can only moan at yourself and of course, we only have this life, so lets get on and enjoy all of it!