I spent my first career trying to help people who most certainly did not love their jobs. As a psychologist, there was only so much I could do. Sure, I could give people techniques to cope, but I couldn’t change the fundamentals of how they spent their workdays.

When I became a leadership consultant and performance coach in 2003, my vision was simple. I wanted to work on the root of so many problems, helping leaders and organization create environments that enabled people to bring their best to work. When I wrote my book, Curating Your Lifein 2019, my goal was to help leaders maximize productivity and joy, both for themselves and for their employees. Learning to love your work — that’s what my work has been about.

So I was fascinated to hear a recent talk by Marcus Buckingham, a giant in the field of leadership excellence. His latest project is Love + Work, a book about how people can thrive at work and find their excellence. Right up my alley!

How to find the work you love

Marcus proposes that excellence at work is always based on love. If you want to excel, figure out what you love and do that. 

Here are some key questions you can ask yourself:

  • What do I volunteer for?
  • When am I in “flow?” Flow is an optimal psychophysical state — one where you’re “in the zone.” It happens when you’re working on something challenging and you’re totally involved. Flow inspires peak performance.
  • When do things click for me? When do I learn things really quickly and easily?
  • What do I instinctively pay attention to?

How to turn loving your work into a business 

Once you figure out what you love, your next challenge is to turn that into meaningful contributions. Are you good at what you love, or do you need more training? How can you provide value to your employer by doing what you love? 

On an organizational level, Marcus said leaders should ask themselves, “Why do we deserve really good people working here?” That means analyzing how your recruitment process identifies what people love to do. It means designing a culture in which the growth and development of each individual is the foundation. It means recognizing that employee satisfaction is what drives customer and stakeholder satisfaction. 

It’s important to love your job, just not all the time

Marcus’s research has found that to be fully engaged and committed to your job, you don’t need to love every minute of it. The magic number is 20%. If you’re doing something you love at least 20% of the time, you’ll like your job and want to stay in it. That number really surprised me — it seems low. But the good news is, it’s doable. 

Marcus’s new book is out now, and I think it will be a great addition to the work so many of us are already doing to help leaders create great workplaces. 

If you’d like to know more about how to maximize your own and others’ ability to love your work, get in touch with me at ggolden@gailgoldenconsulting.com.

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