This morning I’m on the train, heading north along the Hudson River. Though I’ve taken this route hundreds of times, I never fail to be struck by its beauty and grandeur. There’s something about the Hudson Valley that touches my heart; I feel lighter and happier seeing it spread out before me; I love it.
I also feel this way about much of the work I do: I actually feel lighter and happier thinking about coaching someone, or working with a group to help them define their hoped-for future and then figure out how to move toward it, or writing something that will help people do their work better or enjoy their lives more.
I know many people don’t enjoy their work. But I suspect a lot more people could enjoy their work, if they considered enjoying work a possibility.
A few months ago, on a message board to which I post regularly, I was talking about how much I enjoy my work, and someone replied – in effect – “Well, that’s easy for you to say; you have fun and challenging work that you’ve chosen. Most people have no control over their work and are in boring and repetitive jobs.”
A few weeks later, I found myself in a TJ Maxx store (TJX, their parent company, is client of ours, so I was both shopping and getting to know the organization a little). In my checkout line, the sales clerk clearly enjoyed her job. She was pleasant and friendly, checked me out quickly and competently, commented on a shirt I had bought, and made sure I got an additional discount that didn’t automatically come up on the register. As she handed me my shopping bag, she wished me a good day with a sincere smile.
Now, here was someone in a job that many would consider boring and repetitive, and over which most people would say she has little control. Yet she seemed to be genuinely enjoying herself. It made me think: if more people gave themselves permission to look for jobs they liked, and then made the assumption that they could, generally speaking, enjoy their work…how would that change their experience of being alive?