Fumble Recovery: Love What You Do
What is that famous quote? “Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I had to look it up to make sure that I had it exactly right. I was surprised to find that there are many versions of this sentiment, and it’s been attributed to many different people. For the sake of today’s column, I’m going to choose a version shared by a Professor of Philosophy named Arthur Szathmary. The funny part is he then attributes the quote to “an old timer.”
“An old-timer I knew used to tell his students: ‘Find something you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.'”
A Chip Off the Old Block
This quote has always stuck with me because it’s something my dad often repeated. Not only did he make sure that this sentiment was engrained in me, but he also lived it out daily. My dad was a true entrepreneur. He built his golf business from the ground up and became one of the best custom golf club builders around. By the time I was in high school, he was building and repairing clubs for celebrities and athletes who would seek him out because a friend of a friend said he was “the guy.”
My dad loved golf. He loved the mechanics of it, the science involved and the aesthetic. All of that certainly showed in his work. A player left better after meeting with my dad. He knew just how to adjust the loft, the weight, the thickness of the grip, and the stiffness of the shaft just by watching someone swing. He had an old practice net set up in the back of his shop for this very reason. Before all of the fancy technology, there was someone like my dad, who could analyze a swing and know exactly how to fix it.
I wanted to be just like him. He fascinated me. He treated people and spoke to them with such a mix of authority and humbleness. I still want to be just like him. I work at that part every day. It’s hard. Especially being a woman. I feel as if my generation had a confusing upbringing as working women. We were conditioned to be mothers and wives, but also to be smart and powerful. I’m not saying those things can’t be done together. They can, and they are. But when brought into the workplace, I was often made to feel that I had to choose. And if I chose to be a leader, my opinions were often not heard or I was made to feel unqualified. Invalidated.
I loved my career. But I still didn’t “love what I do.” Why did it feel like such work?
The Right Environment Leads to Loving What You Do
The answer turns out to be that I hadn’t found the right environment for my talent. I’ve discovered that when you work with people who respect your skill set and want to hear your input, that work is much more fun. However, it is difficult to turn off what I had been trained to do in those toxic work environments. I was in a terrible habit of repeating myself to ensure I had been heard, constantly making sure my work was being credited, and needing frequent validation. Through the nurturing of my colleagues, I’m finding that I can let go of those survival techniques and just be me.
There’s freedom in not having to fight for every scrap. Peace comes as a result of knowing you’ve done a good job without having to ask if you did. There’s joy in opening up your laptop to work just because you want to and not because you have to. That’s exactly what my dad tried to model to me. Work is just another amazingly fun day in your life if you love what you’re doing. And I do.
My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open. Take care. xo @KellyInPhoenix