“Do you love your work?” or “What do you love about your work?” Two questions that may seem identical – but really aren’t.
Ask the first question – “do you love your work?” – and most people will give a lengthy, even tortured answer. Love is complicated, and this particular question brings out existential fears: are you doing the right work for you? Is this company’s mission worth the many hours (or years) you’re spending on it? Do your coworkers, boss, and clients bring out your best, most actualized self? You might as well escalate to the biggest question of all: are you living your life well? Framed in these all-or-nothing terms, doubts inevitably push their way to the forefront.
But let’s put a different spin on that question: “What do you love about your work?” Suddenly the focus shifts. Instead of a dire reckoning, this questions prompts you to consider all the things, big and small, you value about your work: a co-worker who brings infectious energy to the office. A boss who challenges you with interesting projects. A team who’s always got your back. A client who’s ready to trust your ideas and expertise. An organizational mission you can believe in. It may surprise you to realize: there’s a lot more to love about work than you may have thought.
It’s very true that employers don’t always effectively demonstrate appreciation for their own people. (We listed 10 steps organizations should take to fix this in last year’s Valentine’s Day infographic.) But love is a two-way street. When it comes to our jobs, we’re often so deeply conflicted about whether love has found us, we forget we have the capacity to seek love out, too.
This year we invite you to share some love and appreciation with your coworkers, boss, or clients with sharetheloveatwork.com. This new website enables anyone to create and share a customized valentine with a coworker, boss, or client via email or social media. All valentines created will appear on www.sharetheloveatwork.com in a constantly growing online bulletin board of the many things to appreciate about work. Users may sign valentines or share them anonymously.
Tell the world why your organization’s mission matters. Send a valentine to the people who inspire you to come to work and make magic happen. Sharing your gratitude is a double gift: it brightens the recipient’s day, of course, but it will also brighten yours.
As I’ve blogged before, what you focus on manifests itself. So let’s take a minute to reflect on the many good things about your work, your job, your team. Focusing on the good encourages those things to grow – and flourish.
“Finding a job you love” starts with loving the job you’ve got. Find the parts about work you like, push them to the nth degree, and on the other end, see if you’ve discovered something you love. We’ll keep pushing employers to show their people more love. But we’d also counsel employees to show more love in return.