There is a universal, spiritual, upside-down, culture clashing, reality that when approaching anything in life, the high road (the Jesus road) is to consider others before ourselves. Loving your work is no exception. “If you want to be great, in God’s Kingdom, learn to be the servant of all.” The 2nd chapter in the book of Philippians calls it out loud and clear. Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfishness, value others above yourselves.” The 10th chapter of Mark says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others.”
Loving your work doesn’t just happen. There are many factors that can cause this almost euphoric state. The secret sauce in every step is to consider others first. That’s where the love comes from. Creating this culture inspires and motivates an entire organization to not only love what they do, but to enjoy each other in the process.
Here are 7 Steps to Loving Your Work:
- Have a curious spirit. Researching, Googling, looking for new things, new experiences, always being eager to learn and asking great questions will pique anyone’s curiosity. The older people get, the more likely they are to stray from acting like a child. Being playful and child-like enhances curiosity. One of the best ways to remain curious is to be intentional about meeting new people outside your area of work. Ask them great questions. A new perspective is life-giving and will energize you far more than you might think.
- Commit to a specific process of improving. Anders Ericsson, author of the book Peak, is an expert on how people improve at anything. He has found that just practicing isn’t enough. To truly improve, you must engage in “deliberate practice.” Deliberate practice involves stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. Repeating a skill you’ve already mastered might be satisfying, but it’s not enough to help you get better. Simply wanting to improve isn’t enough. Submit to a process and regiment toward improving.
- Listen deeply. Along with speaking, reading, and writing, listening is one of the “four skills” of language learning. While intensive listening may be more effective in terms of developing specific aspects of listening ability, extensive listening is more effective in building fluency and maintaining learner motivation. Great listening demonstrates how we value others. So often we are more motivated to speak into a situation and contribute, rather than listening and learning. Asking great questions gives us a great advantage as a listener. Great listeners know when and how long to be silent. They show genuine interest in what the person is saying. They aren’t running ahead to think of their next comment. People who are great listeners are often sought out by others because they are known to care.
- Be a person others trust. As a coach, one of the very first things that must happen is to develop trust. Trust is the foundation for collaboration, team building, and overall integrity. People love to work where there is deep trust–Trust in the leadership, trust in each other, and trust that they are a valuable person to the organization. Holding each other accountable for confronting hurtful comments, bad attitudes, and even gossip, all contribute to building trust. Trust leads to confidence, and confidence is the powerful fuel that drives an organization or a team.
- Create an enjoyable culture. A fun, enjoyable culture does not happen by chance. There are specific reasons certain organizations are known to have joy-filled cultures. The leaders of the organization pave the way. They look through the lenses of expectation, inspiration, caring and carefully plan things that bring people joy. Fun surprises, like taking the staff to a movie during lunch hour. Bring in fun food. Show fun videos at a break. Celebrate and honor a staff member for going beyond what is expected.
- Be a risk taker. The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. has a display of the “The Spark Lab” for the Center of Invention. Part of the process of creating something new involves these five things: “Think it, explore it, sketch it, create it and try it.” Ken Robinson of TED.COM says that the older we get, the less we act like children. He says the difference between kids and adults is that kids will absolutely “give it a go.” They are not afraid to try. Risk-taking has everything to do with advancing. The reason that most people are not risk-takers is that taking a risk implies that failure can happen. But failing when taking risks is one of the best teachers in life.
- Keep caring for others. Recent studies show that one of the main reasons a person stays with a company or organization is that the leadership cares about them. Simon Sinek says, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” Surprise visits to a co-worker’s office, or simply asking how their kid’s soccer game went on Saturday can go a long way. Maybe a thank you note with a Starbucks card. Always be prepared to ask great questions that indicate that you really care. It’s not so much that your staff knows you care, rather, they must “feel” that you care.
Love your work by loving others first!