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The difference between loving your job VS. thinking you have an ok job.
I read something on LinkedIn the other day that caught my eye. The essens was basically that it’s ok not to love your job. A million likes. It got me thinking - so here is my thinking.
When I’m deeply interested in something - the learning journey becomes a never ending highway. I read books, I attend events, I debate. I share my thoughts and learnings with people around me and in blog posts. This is something I like to call: Being genuinely interested. It’s when I’m so interested in something that I keep learning more about it without thinking. In fact I can’t help learning more about some topics - it kind of just happened without me knowing. That’s how natural it comes. It’s something that gives me energy and that energy tends to spread across.
In my early twenties I played in a pop-band and worked part time as a guitar teacher. One of my students - a kid who had never touched a guitar before - was dropped off by his mom. In our first lesson we talked about what music he liked and why he wanted to learn how to play the guitar. He said that he loved Metallica and would love to play in a rock band one day. I didn’t really know any Metallica songs by heart - so I picked up my iPhone, went to Youtube and found a tutorial on a simple Metallica riff for beginners. We learned the riff together by following the tutorial, and with some additional guidance from me we also covered some theory and techniques as well.
On our next lesson two weeks later this kid plays two Metallica riffs by heart. And he kept this learning pace for months, he started teaching these songs to his friends and they started a band and performed at the local talent show in town.
So what’s the point of the story then? - It sounds like a pretty usual kid-learns-how-to-play-the guitar-and-starts-a-band-story.
The thing is that - I did not teach this kid how to play guitar. I showed him YouTube, and possibly how to learn from it. He being genuinely interested is what made the progress - that’s what made learning so easy and natural to him. That’s what kept him going without anyone telling him what to focus on and what to learn.
My point is: The same thing goes for work and career. If we work with things we have a genuine interest in, we keep learning, we keep growing, we keep inspiring others without even thinking about it. We glow and we enjoy it. This is not only for our own good - it’s in the interest of the companies we are working for as well. I think of it as the band this kid started, and many other bands that will be started by his friends and friends of friends and the fans of these bands as long as genuinely interested people are doing what they care for. These bands are the culture of a company, the atmosphere, it’s the core of how we collaborate, and how we inspire our surroundings to make things happen.
Imagine putting together a band of highly educated musicians, putting distorted guitars in their hands, paying them to play Metallica covers - and on top of this expect the band to evolve into something meaningful that inspires others. Good luck with that! Unfortunately this is what we tend to do in the corporate world, with recruitment and team set up, responsibilities and roles.
It’s possible to make this band play a song now and then, it might even sound quite good. But imagine how much time and energy that needs to be put into making things happen, compared to the Kid who was genuinely interested in doing exactly this.
If we let go a bit and let the genuinely interested people do the things they care about for real - we would probably not end up with the rock band we had in mind, maybe we end up with a vocal group that sings jazz fusion. But this vocal group is probably much more likely to serve the company’s interest. This is because they will collaborate flawlessly, learn, teach, inspire others without thinking about it. They will be self organised and take the vocal group to the next level, leading the way on how to do so. They will also enjoy life more in general and stay longer with the company.
My second point is that when we find ourselves playing Metallica covers and being miserable about it, we should be transparent about this. Let everyone know what we really care for and stop trying to convince management we are doing a good job and that we should get paid more to keep the band going. Because the truth is that we are not doing a good job this way. And I can assure you that management would appreciate knowing if you think you could add more value in a different part of the organisation, or by spending more time on a certain project if this makes you glow.
This is the difference between loving your job vs. Thinking you have an ok job: The ones that love their job are genuinely interested in what they are doing. That’s it. There is no one saying that you have to love your job. I’m just saying that allowing yourself and your colleagues to work with the things you are genuinely interested in is what makes the difference.
And the starting point is you doing something you truly love and care for. How great isn’t that?
Happy to hear your thoughts on this!
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