Early in my career, I worked in a company with an inspiring and passionate CEO. He often said, “If you love what you’re doing, you never have to work again.” Love that concept! Most of us hate work. It’s a four-letter word. Hard work is why I left the family farm. Whenever a job started to feel like work, I quit.
Fortunately, that’s only been a few times in my career. I’ve put years of long hours into my career without really working.
The “father of modern management,” Peter Drucker, said, “your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then to help orchestrate the energy of those around you.” If you’re going to be an effective energy leader, then your work can’t be work. You need a job that isn’t a job, it’s a joy. When you love what you’re doing, you never have to go to work again.
Highly effective leaders are in love with the organization, community, or team that they work or live in. Their love is expressed in a deep desire to see that organization, community, or team grow to its full potential. Leaders love the people they work with enough to contribute to their growth and development.
That doesn’t mean we always like or agree with everyone. As with family, we often don’t get to pick and choose teammates, bosses, and the like. Some of them aren’t people we’d invite to dinner or choose as a friend. However, leaders love their organization’s greater purpose and see its products or services contributing to a bigger world that they love. That love — and desire for growth and development — extends to everyone involved.
If you’re not leading a meaningful life, it’s hard to help others find meaning. If you don’t feel a sense of connection to a bigger purpose, it’s hard to unify others. To impassion others, you need to either find the work you love or learn to love the work you have. If your current job isn’t energizing you so you can energize and lead others, you have four choices:
- Do nothing but wish for your fairy job mother to magically appear and energize your life;
- Move out of a leadership role and play to your strengths and passions in other ways such as technical or advisory roles;
- Figure out what your personal vision, values, and purpose are and transform your current job into your life work;
- Figure out what your ideal job is and find or create it.
As leadership researcher, author, and professor, Warren Bennis, once concluded, “a basic ingredient of leadership is passion — the underlying passion for the promises of life, combined with a very particular passion for a vocation, a profession, a course of action. The leader loves what he or she does and loves doing it.”
Inspiration, passion, and love. It’s hard to fake what you don’t feel. It’s really tough to impassion others about their work unless you’re impassioned about yours. Creating leadership energy is an inside job.