The world is easy to classify and divide. Religion, politics, sports teams, geography, coke or pepsi, ski or snowboard, toilet paper roll up or toilet paper roll down. There is no end to the manner in which people choose to be grouped. Humans, with all of our social hardwiring, love to belong. Hell, even those that strive to be non-conformists work to no end to fit in with the rest of the purple-haired, ear-gauge sporting, tattooed, non-conformists.
There is also the “I love my job/I hate my job” dichotomy. I could be wrong, but I believe that the later is the smaller group. In the circles I travel, the majority of the folks with whom I interact are happy in their careers, if not their current place of employ.
I was talking with a friend about how fortunate I was to be able to make a living doing what I absolutely love doing. Hours later I found myself thinking, “why do people stay in jobs they don’t enjoy?” What compels a person blessed with the gift of free will, living within the greatest economic engine on earth, protected by the most powerful document known to man (the US Constitution), with the freedom to do or become whatever they way, to remain in a job they don’t love?
I have theories, but they are just theories. It is easier to explain why I chose to strike out on my own to start training athletes and do leadership consulting and coaching.
I enjoy relationship building. My heart grows a little larger every time someone gives me their trust. It doesn’t happen overnight. There is a give a take that goes on for weeks and months, and in some cases years. Inevitably, however, there is a defining moment in which they make the decision to go all in and place their trust in me, the coaches, and the process. Their first pull up, competing in their first competition, getting a promotion at work, or just being on the receiving end of some brutally honest advice that worked; something positive happens that they can attribute to the training they have received and then, BAM! Trust is cemented. It is thoroughly enjoyable to be in such an empowering and uplifting environment, daily.
Through years of trials, tribulations, more mistakes than I can count, and some pretty damn good successes of which I am proud, I have become mentally tough and determined. I enjoy helping people achieve new levels of determination and mental toughness through fitness. That is not to say that one can only develop those traits by exercising, I just find it the most practical and accessible way to do it to the masses. It translates into some pretty incredible achievements both inside and outside the gym.
I was taught by some of the greatest leaders in the world, and I love being able to share what I learned from them with others. From the board room presenting to c-level executives, giving a keynote speech to a crowd hungry to hear more, and conducting one on one coaching and mentoring with mid-level managers, being able to help people become better, more inspiring and motivating leaders is something I love doing. I think I’m good at it, and through my ability to convey leadership principles and traits to others I am able to give back in return for all that I have received from those that taught me. I also get a deep sense of accomplishment every time someone I coached achieves something big as a result of the work we did. It is equally enjoyable doing it in a less formal environment with my athletes in the gym. Being able to provide some sound leadership to such a diverse group of professional, highly accomplished, and thoroughly experienced people provides me with great lessons and learning opportunities.
Lastly, I enjoy being in charge of my own fate and shouldering the responsibility of ensuring the livelihood of my employees. It is empowering, motivating, and satisfying. At the end of the day, there is nothing like pondering all that has been achieved, and planning what is coming next.
It comes at a cost, for sure; a cost I happily pay. I work 7 days a week and my days are often 14-18 hours. My daily driver is a 25-year old Plymouth Sundance, my house is really small, I’ve had the same phone for 4 years, and I won’t be retiring anytime soon. I happily pay the price because I love how my job makes me feel more than I don’t like my old car and small house. (Truth be told I love that damn car.) I think I have an advantage over some folks because my standard of happiness is very low. As long as my belly is full, no one is shooting at me, and I have a roof over my head, I’m a happy man. Anything beyond that is a bonus.
3 tips for those that are on the “I hate my job” side of the aisle.
Change your mindset: If you find yourself saying, “Ugh, I hate my job.” before you start each shift andyou drive a new car, live in a big house, have a brand new phone, 100 pairs of shoes, go out to dinner 3-4 times per week, and attend all the Bills games, then change your mindset. Rather than focusing on not enjoying your job, focus on the fact that you enjoy “stuff” more than you dislike your job. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Focusing on the part you don’t like (your job), however, makes it difficult to enjoy the things you do like (possessions) to the fullest extent possible.
Determine what you love to do: Start with your hobbies. People pursue a hobby because it interests them or satisfies a desire that can’t otherwise be satisfied. Drill down into it and determine what it is that the hobby is satisfying. If you enjoy archeology think what it is about it that really piques your interest. Is it the exotic, far-off lands where the work takes place? Is it the attention to detail required when cataloguing all the artifacts? Once you figure out what it is that you love about it, look to see where you can find the same things in your occupation. Is there a position for which you could apply that would allow for some travel? Maybe there is a job opening that requires someone with savant-like attention to detail and one who is willing to record minute bits of information.
Consider working for yourself doing what it is that interests you. If you absolutely love what you do, are good at doing it, and are honest in your product, you will be successful. Now listen, as good as you are at Cambodian silk weaving, it is very small demographic, if it even exists at all. Before you quit your job and start breeding silk worms ensure there are enough people out there that want what you are offering.
One last thought.
The intangible benefits of doing what you love cannot be over stated. Years ago, two college students walked into Athletes Unleashed for a free Saturday class. They were awesome young girls, full of energy, loved to work hard, and they kept coming back. They eventually allowed their boyfriends to tag along and all four of them soon became members. Over the years I watched them graduate and earn full time positions as school teachers, project managers, and logisticians. Then came proposals (and I was even a part of one), and soon after weddings, both of which I was lucky enough to attend. With one set of twins and one in the oven between the pair, I’ve been witness to the four of them entering the building as kids and leaving as professionals, as moms, as dads, as husbands, and as wives. How do you do you put a dollar value on being a part of peoples’ lives? Do what you love and you will never be short on happiness.