How do you know if you love what you do for a living?
It’s a simple question that seems straight-forward enough, but it’s not always easy to answer. Many people would instinctively say something like, “I just know” or “I can just feel that it’s right” or “I definitely know the opposite – when I don’t love what I do.”
Those aren’t wrong answers, they’re just a bit vague. They are tied to emotions, which we know can be fleeting. And, frankly, they aren’t all that helpful. So if you’re not sure if you really love what you do or if you just want some validation, consider these two filters. They aren’t the only criteria, but they’re a good place to start.
You most likely love what you do if …
1. It’s not just about you.
Real love – the type of love we talk about with Extreme Leadership – is others-focused, not narcissistic. So if you think you love what you do but it’s all about you, then you’re missing the boat.
Scott Krist, a trial lawyer in Houston, put it this way: “I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have a genuine love for my clients, for the law, and for how I can help people rebuild their lives.”
He doesn’t mention winning cases or getting rich. There’s nothing wrong with those as motivators, but they can’t be the singular driving force, because those are self-focused pursuits. If you love what you do by focusing on others, the other things flow naturally.
Ryan Hulland, president of Netfloor USA, often sees this expressed as humility.
“For some strange reason, salespeople who don’t stay humble and think their customers absolutely love them never seem to do as well as the down-to-earth, likeable ones,” he said. The best sales people, he points out, are genuine, authentic, and live by the motto, “You have to love your customers more than you think they love you.”
2. You willingly sacrifice for it.
When you love what you do, you are excited about giving your time to it. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to give your time to other important things. It just means you have an instinctive pull to invest time into your work.
“I don’t just meet with someone once in my office and then never see them again until their case goes to trial,” Krist said. “I’m talking to them and visiting with them regularly and becoming part of their lives while their case is in the process.”
It’s been said that where your “treasure” is, that is where you’ll find your heart. In other words, if you look at where you’re spending your time and money, it will show you what you truly love. Krist said he said he often gets to know more about his clients than “their closest friends or their doctors,” and that type of connection makes the outcome of the cases very personal to him. In other words, his “treasure” is tied up in knowing and helping his clients, which is a good indication that he’s doing something he loves.
What about you? Are you willing to sacrifice your time and money to pursue your work? And is it driven by a sincere desire to serve others, not just yourself? If so, there’s a good chance you love what you do.