It breaks my heart to hear people talk about their work with a half-hearted response of “it’s fine.” That’s not to say that everything always has to be “AMAZING!” And even an over-enthusiastic response can become rote as well. The point is, that through hard patches and great patches, there should be an underlying sense of satisfaction, purpose, and dare I say it…joy in your work. I love this quip by stand-up comedian, Louis CK, as he talks about smoothing over life’s hardships, particularly in parenting and marriage, with the age-old-short-answer of “Great”** (definitely NSFW [explicit]…or home, if children are in the vicinity):
(Starts at 0:52)
“We don’t complain. When you ask a parent, ‘hey, how’s the family?’ We go, ‘Great!’ That’s all we ever say. It’s never f*in ‘great.’ But we say ‘great’ ‘cause we’re not gonna tell you, ‘Well, my wife assassinated my sexual identity, and uh, my children are eating my dreams.’ We don’t f*in bother you with that! We just say ‘great.’” http://youtu.be/x81M3g3zjXc
Like Louis pointed out, many times we just reply "It's great" to avoid having the real conversation. It’s hard for me to believe that if everything’s “fine,” that someone is actually truly fulfilled and happy. I think there's a certain level of happiness that they might be achieving in that moment. But if they're honest with themselves, it’s because they don’t ask for anything more. Perhaps good enough is good enough for them. But I have a feeling that the mere fact that you’re reading this post means that you want more than just a job (and a life) that’s just “fine.” You want something more than punching the clock, day in and day out.
For those who just say that work is fine and their life is fine – they’re missing the light of enthusiasm, and that’s what I mean when I talk about being engaged in your work. When someone’s alive with that spark of energy, there’s a difference in their voice, their walk, the way they wake up, in the way they attack life.
There’s a difference in their overall demeanor, because they’re alive with a light of passion that drives everything they do when they’re excited about their work. I believe it's our duty to find out what that is, and it's unique for each one of us, and to go about doing it.
I'm curious, have you figured out what that is for you yet? Leave a comment below and let me know.
(**Side note: if you have kids, dependents or if you are in a position where someone is dependent upon you for their livelihood, for feeding them or clothing them—there are times when you do have to go to work and just have to get the job done. Whether or not you like it, that’s it. But hopefully this blog and my upcoming book will be able to help move you towards enjoying a job you can’t escape too—by creating a bigger meaning for what you’re doing and allowing that to shine through your work. Stay tuned for more posts about this later.)