I keep hearing people refer to February as the “month of love.” I’m left wondering if this means the other 11 are not months of love? What if we only loved our loved ones, one month of the year, or 8.3% of the time? I wonder how that relationship would go.
Relating this to the world of work — have you noticed very few people seem to love their work? Likewise, have you observed that very few people seem to go the extra mile in their service to colleagues and customers? What a rare commodity it is to see leaders focused on serving others, rather than being so self-serving. It is indeed so rare: It’s perhaps 8.3% of the time.
I heard it said once that most employees will do just enough to not get fired and most employers will pay just enough to not have people quit. As sad as that is, I have found it to be so true. You and I can tell as consumers or coworkers, when the person we’re interacting with is giving just 8.3% effort.
What would it take to really love your work? I believe it necessitates a different way of thinking about work.
Very few people bounce out of bed on a Monday excited about the working week ahead. But why? Well deep down in our DNA we know that we’re meant to work and we also know that work can be toilsome. I think the paradigm shift is to prioritize the subject over the object of work. Allow me to illustrate.
I remember my father saying to me as a young man about to embark on the world of enterprise: “Work is no more complicated than people working with people, (who we call ‘colleagues’ and ‘vendors’) to serve other people, (who we call ‘customers’) and money is just the fruit that falls from the tree when we do it well.” He added, “Oh and by the way, get that mullet trimmed off.”
From an early age, my father stirred me to think about the subject (people), over the object (work). He taught me that money is just an exchange between two subjects (an employer and an employee), when value is created through the object (work).
So, here’s the paradigm shift: Think of your work as a way of serving people. Think less of the object of the work and more about the subject(s) for whom you are doing the work. The ultimate subject is your employer but the interim subjects are your coworkers and customers.
Have some fun with this over the days and weeks ahead — look for those who align their behaviors with this way of thinking. You’ll start to see some who do and some who don’t. Pay attention in the grocery store. At the dental office. In the mechanic’s shop. At a restaurant. Hey, even on a customer service line if you ever get to actually speak with a real subject. You’ll be able to tell when someone sincerely wants to be of service to you — you’re the subject they’re solely focusing on with all of their soul. Conversely, you’ll be able to spot those who see you as an inconvenient barrier between them and their clock-watching.
I picked up a phrase from someone once that went, “Like your work, love your family and friends.” For many years I lived by and liked that phrase. We all know stories of workaholics who wore themselves out at work and saw families and friendships disintegrate as a result. We all know of people who inappropriately loved people at work and marriages broke down because of the infidelity.
As time has passed, I can see that it is indeed possible to love people at work so much so, that our work can actually be love made visible. Customers and coworkers can tell that you truly care about them — a form of love that won’t wear you out or cause you to stumble.
What if every month was the month of love? Imagine what that extra 91.7% of effort could do for a country, an economy and most importantly for the subject you’ve been gifted the honor, to be of service to.
Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia (newleaftd.com). For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].