This is not my first rodeo, as my Colorado-born wife Keri keeps pointing out.
And she’s right. Twenty years ago I was standing in front of business audiences sharing the ideas behind my first book How to Make Work Fun! Nowadays it’s pretty much accepted that work should have a strong element of enjoyment, satisfaction or other non-monetary reward to it, but back then, I can tell you, I met with a lot of stony faces and defensive body language. But I was young and full of energy and I relished the challenge of taking on the status quo.
Now I am older and full of energy and out on my next rodeo to explore the possibility held the famous line in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet: “Work is Love Made Visible”.
And I am still taking on the status quo. What’s interesting about both of these rodeos is the contrast between the key words in my original book title and in Gibran’s line:
It’s as if the two words are not supposed to exist in the same domain. That is less true now of WORK/FUN – which is a sign that things can and do change for the better – but for many there will still be a resistance to the combination of WORK/LOVE.
Why? I believe it is because of over the years, in our collective consciousness, we’ve successfully separated work from the rest of our lives. Along with that we’ve decided to say that work, apparently, is a place where different rules and values apply. The line ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s just business’ is code for an agreement we have somehow made up that certain principles we hold dear to us in our personal, interior or spiritual lives are to be thrown out of the window in this current ‘business’ situation or context.
But that’s not true like gravity is true. It’s just an agreement we’ve been making. And I wasn’t in the room when it was made, so I’d like to renegotiate it. And I invite you to do the same!
We start with us.
This, then, is an inside-out revolution.
An inside-out resolution that I will live my life – all of my life – based on the things that truly matter to me.
And Love is what matters to me.
Therefore my life and everything in it becomes a channel for love including my work.
But where do we start? And what is our ‘work’? Is it your job? Your career? Your vocation or calling?
No – all those are applications of your work.
We often think ‘work’ is outside us, separate from us, an external activity, given by others…A ‘job’, for example, is given to you by others – but your work is not like that.
The word ‘work’ comes from the Old English verb ‘Woerken’ which means ‘to make; to fashion; to create.’ Human beings make things: objects, projects, relationships. All worked. And we are the verb, the origin, the source…
Your work is what you create everyday, including you as one of the things you are making.
What you put into that is entirely yours to give. The spirit with which you bake the bread or write the blog or process the invoice is all coming from you. You are a channel for what matters most in your life. Or you’re not. But if not, that’s nothing to do with ‘the job’ or ‘the boss’, until you decide to make those external factors more powerful than what you choose to make manifest.
In my letter to the President, I suggested a three-point call to action. One of them is about encouraging everyone to find work that they love to do, work that is fullest alignment to their vision and values. But that was only the first of the three, because embedded in the siren call of ‘find the work you love’ is the idea, again, that the work is out there and we need to search for it.
I want everyone to find work they love to do. And I want everyone to know that the greatest work they can do – they can make – in the world is to be more loving. With everyone. All the time. And that’s not a quest for the mystics and the spiritual seekers. We can all begin, here and now.
Your refusing to judge your boss or coworker; your deciding not to engage in gossip; you finding the capacity to forgive another’s uncaring remark; your commitment not to beat yourself up today but to love and acknowledge your own best efforts – all of these are examples of Love at work. They will change the world, today, as surely as any extraordinary act of heroism tomorrow.
Love your work, but know that the work, ultimately, is Love.