Do what you love. How many times have you heard that? Maybe you’ve put it into practice in your career. If so, lucky you. But how many people go to work every day to do something they don’t love? Or take a major in college because they’re told they should, but don’t really love. Or go to college at all when they really… well, you get it.
What part about love do these people not get? Maybe they listen to too many other people and not to themselves.
Every kid grows up wanting to be something — a doctor, an engineer, an artist, or whatever. But I think it’s fair to say few actually end up doing what they thought they’d do when people asked them when they were a kid, “So, what do you want to be when you grew up?” I wanted to be an architect. That sure didn’t happen. But I do love design, and building, and creating things that last, so I got part of it right. (And I worked with a great designer to build one helluva house.)
Kids get to high school, and either they have supportive parents, teachers, and counselors… or they don’t. But it’s one thing to get support, and another to listen to your own heart. Support from others helps a young person discover what they love. Maybe it’s not in grade school or high school, but that love comes – in college, trade school, community college, or early work experience.
We’ve all had jobs we didn’t like. They help us in our quest to find what we do love. If we’re lucky, we don’t have too many such experiences. Some people just know what they love early in life. Others learn as they go. Either way is okay. But life is too short not to be true to yourself.
Let’s Talk About LinkedIn…
How many LinkedIn profiles do you read that have any emotion at all to them? Let alone love. I think that’s too bad. A huge missing ingredient.
The first sentence of my LinkedIn profile says, “I love tech startups.” That was not contrived. I didn’t think about it a lot or spend time analyzing how great LinkedIn profiles are written. (God save us from all that boring advice out there!) I just thought one day, “What elevator pitch, what mantra captures ‘me’ in the fewest number of words?” And out it came – my first sentence. If people get that and don’t read any further, that’s enough for them to know about me.
On my LinkedIn profile, I also talk about my volunteer work as a board member for a rapidly growing nonprofit community and events organization, MinneAnalytics. I dove into that in 2014 because I love tech events. And I could see the people running it had a good thing going. I had a long background attending, writing about, and helping organize and evaluate tech events. (That goes back some 25 years. Don’t get me started.)
Doing Great Work: Only One Way
Does one have to love what they do to consider themselves a success — or have others do so? Yes, absolutely and positively – both!
Steve Jobs is cited for many great quotes, but here’s one you may not have seen:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
His one-time archrival had this to say on the subject:
“Paul and I never thought we would make much money out of the thing. We just loved writing software.” – Bill Gates.
What Does Pay Have to Do With It?
One amazing musician put the money thing this way:
“The people who make it to the top – whether they’re musicians, or great chefs, or corporate honchos – are addicted to their calling… [they] are the ones who’d be doing whatever it is they love, even if they weren’t being paid.” – Quincy Jones.
Then again, there’s this view. I like this “law”:
“The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it; the more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make.” – Mark Twain.
And that dude made his share.
One More Memorable Quote…
Be true to yourself, to what you love. Don’t be envious of others’ success or keep wondering “what if?” What you do is special to just you – do it well and people will love you for it.
Another great American I respect tremendously is Martin Luther King Jr. Here’s what he had to say about loving your work:
“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweet streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”
Wow, kind of gives a whole new perspective on the term “labor of love,” doesn’t it?
I took to using that term to describe how my good friends and I did the Minnov8 blog and the “Minnov8 Gang Podcast” for some eight years. (Minnov8 is since retired, but archived here. My colleagues who really starred on it were Steve Borsch, Phil Wilson, and Tim Elliott — great guys! The podcast had a run of 400 one-hour weekly episodes (myself through about 350 of them). My friends kinda liked that “labor of love” term, and it stuck. We weren’t doing it for money or fame. We had no business model for it. We were all successful in our respective lines of work. We just did Minnov8 because we loved it.
And Because… Fun
And did we ever have fun. Whoa, baby, way too much fun! In my view, that’s a key part of loving what you do. If you can’t have that, why do it? So, when people ask me about finding what you love, I say this:
Do the people you’ll be working with have a sense of humor? Do you get to laugh a lot? Does going to work not seem like work? Would you do it even if you weren’t being paid… because, for one thing, you’d miss the laughs? If you can answer yes to all those questions, I’d say you have a pretty good head start on knowing your calling.
Do You Love Startups, Too?
If so, tell me about it in the comments! Or weigh in otherwise: At what age did you discover what you really love? How would you describe the work you love in 10 words or less? Or are you still looking? What’s helping or hindering you?