Last Thursday, I picked up lunch from the Whole Foods near my office and sat outside to eat. I was wedged between two tables with people actively engaged in conversation. I couldn’t help but overhear both conversations.
Sitting at the table to my left was a young woman speaking to a guy. From what I could gather, she was recently hired by Whole Foods (Whole Foods’ regional office is in the office next to mine). She was talking to the guy about her outlook on how to do her job, and gave her a lot of, what sounded like, constructive feedback and advice on how to execute. However, just before left the table, the guy dropped a few cautionary words about working with certain people. Oddly, the entire “zen thing” the guy had vaporized when he spoke about the culture of this woman’s new division. Quite a sour note to end a conversation.
Meanwhile, at the table to my right were two women who spent a lot of time talking about a new person in their office. In a nutshell, both seemed to like the woman who joined the office, but were in lock-step in thinking that the young woman needed to grow up and realize that work is not all fun and rosy. Both women said that this young woman needed to realize that the time for fun in the office was over, and she was going to start doing the crap work. One went on to say that this young woman needed to further understand and/or realize that as she moves up in the office, and takes on more responsibility, the crap work only increases.
I think just about everyone has heard the quote about discovering your passion.
Do what you love, and you never work a day in your life.
I wonder, though, how many people actually take that sentiment to heart. I firmly believe in the quote, but freely admit that I don’t love what I do for a living, and daydream, often, about what I’d really love to do. Sadly, this has been the story of my work life for the last 20 years. I think that I have fallen into, or moved around from, one job to another, never really taking a single stride toward finding my passion and making that what I do for a living.
With that said, aside from occasional “Oh my god…I hate my job!” moments, I don’t sit around thinking that I’ve pulled the shortest straw. I think about how to immerse myself in the job I’m, become more versed, and make the most of where I find myself.
While thinking about this post, the notion of “crap work,” an old adage came to mind.
When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade.
The objective read of this quote suggests that people should make the most of what they have. It challenges one to see beyond the obvious to get to a better place.
The subjective read of this little nugget (the “crap work” women) is that you’ve been given a bag full of crap, and that’s just life. Learn how to make the most out of the sour yellow ovals life has put in your hands. Keep your head down and squeeze.
Though I haven’t had my epiphany and realized my life’s passion, I have a real problem with viewing responsibilities associated with a job as crap work. That thinking immediately sours a person’s perspective and outlook on work. Honestly, I think if you view the tasks that come with your job, even those considered drudgery or mundane, as “crap” there’s a chance that your growth and advancement will be seriously limited. I couldn’t imagine working for someone who told me that I have to stop being happy and buckle down for the crap work. Talk about taking all of the wind out of my inspiration sail.
I am, in now way, suggesting that even if you pursue the thing you love that tedious, non-sexy, and cumbersome tasks won’t be par for the course. I merely think one’s view of these tasks will be tempered by their aspirational goals. If you love what you’re doing, it is more than likely that you will be willing to get your hands dirty early or often, if needed. Further, projecting your displeasure with encountering “the crap” on the road to something better, potentially robs the other person of his or her joy. I suspect that one of the leading causes of this perspective is a desire by some/many people to leapfrog the trenches and land on higher ground. So many people want the higher job, the higher pay, the higher stature in the office or organization, thinking that defines happiness.
I dare say that most people, and I include myself in that group, aren’t really on a path to pursuing our true passion. We make excuses and justify walking around like plugged in souls in the Matrix. I used to talk myself out of entertaining the idea of becoming a full-time photographer, writer, or anything else I’ve dreamed of becoming. Life’s in the way. Bills. Kids. Responsibilities. Life just gets in the way. There’s not time to daydream, let alone find time to bring a passion to fruition, right? Not so fast. Check out this video by my friend Gary Vaynerchuk.
The message? Stop making excuses. The first step, though, is discovering what really gets you going.
The conversations I over heard have been circulating in my head since last week. Interestingly, the negative energy emanating from that table inspired me. Those conversations, coupled with starting the book Alone Together, have really forced me start thinking about my outlook on my current job. I spent most of the weekend trying to see if I can put my finger my true passion, as well as focusing on engaging with people in a more meaningful, tangible and genuine way.
As for crap work, I’ll leave that to these guys.