The real secret of doing what you love
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?