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The real secret of doing what you love

I have a confession to make. I don’t love what I do.

I am good at what I do, I often enjoy what I do, and I’m grateful that I can do what I do and make a good living at it; but … my heart does not burst with joy each morning as I contemplate the day’s tasks.

“Do what you love” – it’s such a tired cliché, isn’t it? Sometimes, it’s enough to make you want to punch someone in the mouth. I mean, it sounds good in theory, but how many people do you know who truly love what they do? I’m going to guess not many. For most people, doing what you love feels like an unreachable and even self-indulgent goal. We need to do what we need to do to pay the bills – whether we love it or not. I get that.

Still, even if we don’t necessarily love our work, I think there’s a way to bring passion into the picture. Here’s my secret:

 

It’s not about what you love; it’s about who you love. 

I love my daughter. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. No challenge is too great. I put all my resources – emotional, mental, physical, financial, etc. – to the task when there is something she needs. My desire to do right by her makes me a better mom. It gives me super powers that help me fit eight hours of work into a four-hour window so that she and I can spend the afternoon together. It sparks my creative juices when we’re facing a particularly sticky social situation or self-confidence issue. It injects me up with the energy I need to put on my happy face even when I feel like crying or kicking something.

I also love the people my business serves. It’s not the same love that I have for my daughter, but it does make me better at what I do. It makes me care more. I love “my” people as a group – as writers, entrepreneurs, fellow marketing folks – and I love them as individuals. My desire to help them accomplish their goals is what gets me moving on my To Do list each day. My concern for their success is the engine that drives my business and what brings personal passion into my work life.

 

How do you know if it’s love?

Think about the people you serve when you do that thing you do. Do you love them? Do you even like them? What is it, exactly, that you love about them?  What draws you to these people?

How much do you really care about them? Do you find yourself thinking at all hours about their problems and how you can solve them? Do you keep hammering away until you find the right solution, or do you just try your usual tricks and then give up? How badly do you want to make their lives better?

How interested are you in them and what they are doing? Does your curiosity and concern go beyond the boundaries of your official work engagement? When I’m working with someone, I get “tuned into” their world. Relevant information, people, and resources suddenly start popping up on my radar. I love to pass new tidbits back to my clients so we can get all geeky together. Do you do that, too?

Do you always want to know more? Instead of stopping at the “good enough” answer, do you find yourself wanting to dig deeper – to get at the really good stuff? Do you love learning more and more about your customers’ work, lives, and dreams?

Could you talk to these people all day? Do you get jazzed about working sessions and collaboration calls? Do you find a one-hour meeting turning (happily) into a half-day event? Do you wind up chatting on social media with these people?

Do you really “get” them? Do you feel their pain? Do you understand what drives them and feel it as acutely as they do? Were you once just like them? Maybe you still are?

 

Humans are not hardwired to love things or ideas as much as we love other people. 

Love for the people you serve plugs you into a well of positive and inspiring energy. Loving what you do won’t matter as long as it helps the people you love. Your work will start to feel less like work and more like a personal cause – like part of you, not something outside of you. Your passion for the people will give you the stamina to compete and keep going even when the going gets really, really tough. You won’t let little things like a lack of resources or a fear of asking for help or a little self-doubt get in the way of delivering what “your” people need. You’ll just make it happen, because you care that much.

 

What does this have to do with marketing?

I’m glad you asked. Three things:

  1. If you haven’t already read it, I invite you to read my post about the importance of enthusiasm in marketing. Enthusiasm about something and love for something go hand-in-hand. Being able to tap into those feelings gives you a serious edge over a competitor who is just in it for the paycheck. Trust me.
  2. Understanding your customers – really knowing your audience – is critical to your marketing success. If you can step into the shoes of your perfect customer and see the world through her eyes, you’ll know exactly what she needs to hear and how to say it.
  3. Finally, if you really care about helping someone, you’re not going to give up. Whether you’re a newly minted entrepreneur or the marketing manager for an established brand, being in it for the long haul gets a lot easier if you truly care about how what you do affects the people you serve. You will work harder, keep at it longer, and find new ways to get things done.

The bottom line – when you love the people you work for (your customers), the whole marketing thing gets a lot easier because you aren’t dealing with smoke and mirrors. You’re speaking from the heart about people you love and ways you can help them. You get them. They get you. It’s a beautiful thing.

If I had the chance to do what I love, I would be making my living going on long walks, writing fantasy novels, riding horses, and chatting with friends and family in real life and on social media. Since I doubt very much that anyone is hiring for a position fitting that description, I’m going to stick with doing stuff I’m good at for people that I love. So far, it’s working out pretty well for all of us.

 

Where does your work fall on the hate it/like it/love it scale? How about the people you serve? Where is the love in your business? 

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14 Comments

  1. Jamie, holy chow! Good read. You know you have a knack for weaving your work into your story very well. Let me guess. You are in marketing….;-)

    Knowing your audience. Boy, that’s paramount for me. Without that you are simply not going to be on top. Ever.

    Who do I love? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06qN66vEZVE&feature=player_detailpage

    • Jamie Lee

      Ralph,
      You rock. Literally. Thanks for giving my post a soundtrack. That’s FABULOUS!!

      Happy Friday, friend. TKS for coming by & starting my Friday off with such a nice note and badass song.

      :)

  2. John

    Insightful, authentic and touching! I’ve been advocating the power of love in organisation to help empower staff and encourage people to feel valued who can then give the discretionary effort required to help organisations go from good to great. All you need is love!!

    • Jamie Lee

      Thanks so much, John. Nice to have you here. :)

      Even though it often gets short changed for being too “woo-woo,” I think – whether people want to admit it or not – love does play a role – even when we are being our most professional selves. We are still human, after all.

  3. Awesome post, Jamie!

    Yes, I do enjoy what I do – blogging. But, there are also times in which I get bored of out – and even grow hatred for it. But, I think it is all part of the cycle. Growing tired of blogging has only helped me to get better at it – with a small break in between.

    I think that if we are not able to love what we do, then tweak to make it something lovable or enjoyable.

    As far as knowing the audience goes, I care about my audience – I care about providing solutions that are simple and solutions that are deep enough to get great results (I don’t like to stop at good enough solutions, I have the need to dig deeper).

    My main motivation for blogging is just the fun, enjoyment and satisfaction I get out of it. So, my feelings and attitude for blogging and for my users are kind of mixed.

    Anyways, appreciate the post, Jamie,

    Jeevan Jacob John

    • Jamie Lee

      Hi, Jeevan!
      Your comment reminds me that there is a give-and-take at play when it comes to doing what we love. Some days, it’s WHAT we do that gets us jumping out of bed in the morning, and sometimes it’s WHO we do it for. In the best situations, when we start to feel a little burned out on one side, the other side kicks in and keeps us going.

      Thanks for the add & for being here!
      :)

  4. Yes! I’ve had some jobs where I haven’t loved what I’ve been doing, but I’ve cared about and enjoyed working with my colleagues, or my customers (and hopefully both!) and that has made something go from just about bearable to pretty good.

    Or even as a teacher, when I loved what I did, but didn’t necessarily love teaching every class – the three things you say about marketing are equally appliable for teaching a turned-off class of teenagers and (eventually!) getting them positively involved.

    • Jamie Lee

      Hi, Jane! :)
      I think you’re right – those three elements can apply to teaching as well as to marketing … and to lots of other areas of life as well.

      TKS for stopping by! :)

  5. Jamie,

    This is a great way to approach your vocation: How invested are you in the people you are serving? And how enthusiastic are you about all this? But the focus is people! What I enjoy about my work is that I’m involved with a wide-range of organizations and firms, from charity orgs to engineering firms. If you immerse yourself in their world you can get cranked up and excited about what they do. Engineering? Sure 😉 Understand their world and learn. It’s all fun.

    I now have a passion for writing (It’s obvious that you do too :)) and this whole social media space in general, so that’s where the business is going in a big way. It’ll be fun to see where we all go with this, huh?

    • Jamie Lee

      Couldn’t agree more, Craig.

      My clients run the gamut from coaches to software start-ups. Though I may have a more natural affinity for some industries than others, for me it always comes down to just focusing on the people.

      When you’re a marketer, you end up with two “layers” of people to think about – your immediate client and their client. For instance, I have a software client with a great content curation product. I love their product and the team I work with and am emotionally invested in their success. I’m also interested in helping their end client – other content marketers who need help digging out from the content production hole. Caring about their needs makes my job a whole lot more meaningful to me, and a lot more fun.

      Love the variety you speak of and the chance to publish and converse via all the fabulous digital technologies you just wrote about in your post about the studio at our fingertips. It’s an amazing time, and – yes! – it’ll be fun to see where we all go with this – individually and as a society. :)

      TKS for coming by!

  6. Most people have the “need” to do what they love but don’t really take the necessary action to make it happen.
    “Waiting for the right time”, “don’t have the financial backing” etc there are many excuses.

    Thought provoking post. Thanks

    • Jamie Lee

      Very true, Shamelle.
      Sometimes it’s hard to convince ourselves that what we love is a viable choice.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. TKS for the comment.

  7. Okay, so I have to admit that this post raised my hackles at the very beginning. I am in love with the idea of being in love with what I do.

    But then I kept reading. And thinking. And nodding along.

    There are a lot of aspects of my work that I downright hate. Taxes, for example. And anything that has to do with a spreadsheet or financials. Did I mention taxes?

    But what I love is to be of service to others, and what I do is the method by which I am of service. As you said, it’s the people who get me motivated, energized and excited. And connecting with these people on a meaningful level that I really love. And if I couldn’t do the work that I do, I would do something else that would allow me to be of service and connect with others. Now that I look at it, that is the one common thread through my varied careers.

    Thank you for yet another thought-provoking post. I have learned so much from you — both online and off!

    • Jamie Lee

      Erica,
      It’s always a pleasure to have you here.
      I love that I raised your hackles a bit. 😉

      Connection is a big part of what drives me as well. I love learning through others (like you!) and I love sharing what I’ve learned. What inspires me to write – the possibility of creating change, inciting action – is also behind what inspires me to do the work I do in marketing land. There is the possibility of growth through connection & I find that really exciting.

      Thanks for coming by, my friend! :)

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