Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. It is a commonly held view that happiness and fulfilment come from making a career directly out of one’s passion. Simply put, making your vocation your avocation!
On the contrary, current research suggests that many people feel frustrated and dissatisfied at work. But how can we be frustrated with doing what we love? Do the majority not get the opportunity to do so? Or should we maybe blur the lines between doing what you love and loving what you do? I did not have to look too far for answers, because I talked to some of my nearest and dearest IFSers, and the responses were awe-inspiring.
Buddika comes from a generation that preferred careers which were describable in one word. Doctor, Engineer, or Lawyer. Where opportunities were minimal to explore, experiment, and exploit, the notion of doing what you love was nearly non-existent. And that is how someone with an ardent passion for food and culinary arts ended up in the IT Industry. (Yet a rebellious move, considering that he still didn’t settle for becoming Doctor Buddika.) His recipe for success in an industry and a career that was not his first love was to draw from the commonalities between culinary arts and software development. Products, Processes, and People! (Bonus word: “Purple”) Loving the process and the people he works with is his motivation to show up and work his magic. The ability to share energies, collaborate, lead, and create value makes him enjoy and love the path he had chosen, with a side of his amazing cooking which he still finds time for.
Uthpala’s love for singing, theatre, and performing arts might seem like something that falls far from her chosen career. But a part of being a good manager is having the dynamism to maintain undivided attention and engagement – the same traits expected from a successful performer. She makes loving your job seem so easy as she infuses her great communication, interpersonal skills, and careful attention to detail into everything she does. For Uthpala, creativity is everywhere, you just have to look for it.
An avid love for science and physics could have pushed Prabha into becoming a scientist. Instead, she became a Software Engineer. Many years down the line, she claims that software engineering sure does not feel like a second choice, because she absolutely loves what she does. Technology, discovery, innovation, and learning are the constituent particles that sum up her love for work.
Jayani, with her carefully laid out plans, chose her career to be something she knew she would enjoy, coupled with the potential of diversifying into different avenues within the industry. But her undeniable talent and love for music and aesthetics remain as she carefully balances her vocation and avocation.
Finally, I talked to Shamal, a DevOps Engineer whose passion was Civil Engineering. Engineering is layered thinking, regardless of where you apply it. I think he is also a builder: by being extremely passionate about what he does, he has built a community around him where learning and improvement always come in abundance.
Amidst these colorful conversations, what stood out for me was PEOPLE. Everyone agreed that fulfilment came with knowing that your work made a difference in the life of another. Also backed by research, great work is produced when people focus on doing something others love. The Great Work Study once showed that 88% of projects that earned awards had in their core the question, “What difference could I make, that other people would love?”.
Khalil Gibran said: “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”
So, I say, love what you do! Because happiness is always sweeter when shared, whether it is with a coworker, a customer, another team, or whoever benefits from the great work you do.
And as for yours truly, my love for people, storytelling, and writing brought me here, and it would not have been nearly enjoyable without you reading it.
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