Yes, you want your customers to love doing business with you, and you want your colleagues and employees to love working with you, but the most important element in the practice of cultivating Love is, ironically, the one we talk the least about and give virtually no attention to: your own personal connection to the work you do everyday.
Why is that so important? Because it’s impossible (at least in any significant and long-lasting way) to engage, motivate, compel, energize anyone else unless you feel it yourself, first. And love is the way to generate all of the above.
Here’s a process you can use to spark the match in your own heart. Try this, and see if it gives you the juice you need to lead in a way that inspires others to accomplish extraordinary things:
1. Remember Why You Took this Job: Think back over the course of your career so far and recount the events, jobs, projects etc. that led up to your beginning your current work. Then write your answer to these questions: Why did I take this job/start this company/enlist in this program? Are the ideals that I started with still in place today? If not, how can I re-enliven them?
2. List Every Aspect of Your Current Work/Job/Career: Make a quick inventory of all the various aspects of your work: tasks, projects, roles, responsibilities, colleagues, higher-ups, employees, customers, clients, underlying values, etc. Write it however works best for you. Categorize if you’d like; or don’t. However you do it, you should be able to look at the finished product and see all the aspects of your work life at the present time.
3. Highlight What and Whom You’re Grateful For: Use a highlighter to emphasize the items on your list that really resonate with you—those things you love doing, the people you truly care about, the values that you strive to live by—and make coming to work worthwhile. As for the items that don’t get highlighted, well, that’s life. We all have to do things that we don’t love doing in order to do the overall work that we love. (I, for example, don’t love waiting in airports, making sales calls, and tracking expenses). We have a technical term for doing those things anyway. It’s called, “being an adult.”
4. Review Your Highlights Everyday: Once a day—ideally in the morning before things get rolling—review your list and focus on the highlights. Allow yourself to feel genuine gratitude for the things, activities, and people that populate your working experience. That one simple, reflective practice should help to stoke or re-kindle the love in your heart for the work you do.
And if it doesn’t?
It could be that you’re in the wrong place and/or doing the wrong work. But don’t jump to that conclusion rashly; use this opportunity to reflect and consider this work in the greater context of your life and goals.
And remember, you’re starting this process with yourself because that’s how you’ll genuinely and effectively be contagious to those around you. That’s how you’ll inspire others to step up and do the same.