Many years ago, as I left college to enter the “real world,” I worked in radio and print advertising…my short stint in “Corporate America.” I remember questioning whether or not this was really what I was meant to do (before recognizing that I was truly born to be an entrepreneur). I remember those days fondly … and, not so fondly. While I didn’t appreciate or understand the bureaucracy that came with corporate life, I fell in love with the people. And I quickly saw, and felt, how disgruntled so many of them were.
I began to wonder what it was all for. Why were so many people spending their precious days on this earth doing work they didn’t love? And so I asked. I asked in casual conversations why they did what they did. What made them stay there for two, five or 10+ years? And almost without exception, I remember the resounding answer: ”Because I love the people.”
“I love the people.” What does that mean, really? Is it possible to “love” our coworkers? Is that taboo to say in the workplace? It seemed apparent that several people HATED their job, and LOVED their coworkers. I thought a lot about that, and why it was so.
Here is the conclusion I came to. Underneath it all … the money, the recognition, the quest for meaningful work … we all truly want to love and be loved. We want acceptance. We want to be able to share our ups and downs with people who “get us.” So is it possible to “love” our coworkers? Undoubtedly! Outside of our spouse or significant other and our children, our coworkers are those we spend the most time with … and sometimes we spend even MORE of our lives with them than our own families!
We form bonds and ties with those we work with because only they can understand some of the happenings and complexities of our day and only they know what a typical day is REALLY like. And sometimes they hold a special, often sacred space within our heart, because we can share a deeper level of vulnerability and trust with them that no one else can truly understand because they haven’t experienced it in quite the same way our colleagues have.
I have trained and coached thousands of individuals from all walks of life over the years, and I have seen a common thread. It all relates back to those first early days in my cubicle, where it all began.
Sometimes love is the ONLY thing it “has to do with.” Sometimes it’s only because of the love of our coworkers and teammates that we even do the work we do, or stay in the job we’re in. Sometimes it’s the people, NOT the money, the recognition and the need for meaningful work, that keep us doing what we do.
So the next time you begin to wonder, “Is this it?” or “Is there more to my career?”, ask yourself WHY you do what you do, and what specifically is keeping you there. I bet your answer may surprise you … and you may find the clarity you were looking for.
Do U agree? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!
If you’re looking to enhance communication, collaboration and teamwork in your organization, contact U & Improved today!