There are many four-letter words that everyone knows you’re not supposed to say at work. If you do hear them, you probably figure that people are super-stressed, so the words aren’t particularly startling.
But there’s one so rare it almost takes you by surprise. No one ever says it, but we sometimes feel it. When we do, everything changes for the better. We have energy for everything and everyone. Even in the midst of challenges, we’re calm. Time expands and seems to unfurl a red carpet that will undoubtedly lead us to our next success. People seem more at ease with us.
Everyone wants to experience this word, but even if it calls to us, we can’t hear it because we’re distracted by 1,000 other things or we think we’re not supposed to feel this at work.
Not love as in office romance. (That will make you crazy, not peaceful.) At work, there are two kinds of love:
These are the types of love that shorten long days and create villages of peace and plenty. The types of love that no perk, benefit or salary can replace. Love that brings forth patience and compassion rather than annoyance when an upset client calls. Love of a compelling outcome, or love of the simple joy of working together because it’s easy and fun to do so.
When you see someone who is doing what they love, you cannot turn away. The energy of it is so bright it lights you up inside and makes you think that anything’s possible. Whether or not the expression of that love is perfect, the moment always is. Mistakes don’t matter because they’ve already been forgiven. We call this greatness, but it’s really just love made visible.
In my leadership workshops, I often ask people about the day they decided to do what they’re doing now. Sadly, very few can identify a defining moment when their present job or career called to them. I ask, “When you were 11, did you imagine that you’d be doing what you’re doing now?” Most of the time, the group laughs nervously, but few agree.
And yet, most people are good at what they do. No, no, not just good: great. I bet you are. So if you’re so great at it, do you love doing it?
If you don’t, it may be because at work, the opposite of love is not hate; it’s fear. Most days in most workplaces, people are more focused on preventing fear than unleashing love. Too many of the systems and processes at work are designed to prevent problems, which automatically puts pain front and center, which in turn ignites our survival instinct and turns avoidance into an art.
Most work cultures are fraught with tension around what could go wrong or who might possibly be annoyed or offended by what we say and do. We’re afraid to ignore an email. We’re afraid to turn down a meeting. We’re afraid to take vacation. We’re afraid of feedback. We’re afraid we’ll screw up or let someone down. We’re afraid that we didn’t follow directions. We’re afraid that we don’t see our families enough, but also afraid to go home and just be with them and forget about work.
While we’re excited to get our jobs, it’s difficult to express love in the face of constant landmines of fear. It’s no wonder that so many people want to find their passion–amazon has over 2500 books on the subject. But the simple fact is that passion isn’t something you find; it’s something you already have. It is in you, as you, waiting to flow from you into whatever is yours to do now.
The fact is that love is who and what we are, packaged in a form designed to express it. We are hard-wired to connect with one another, so it is natural for us to both want and express love not just from our family and friends, but from those with whom we spend the majority of our waking hours.
We want them to know us.
Accept us as we are.
Find our quirks and faults endearing.
One of my favorite videos is “Inclusion Starts with I,” a testimony to the power of love and our shared humanity.
You’re great at what you do. You’re surrounded with good people, and serving others who also would love to be loved by you.
So go ahead. Let love have its way with you. There’s already more fear in the world than we’ll ever need. Turn up the volume on what’s right and good. There’s nothing you need to have or be or do to get started.
Just love being you, doing what you love doing, with people worth loving because, after all, you’re worth loving too.
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