by Janet M. Shlaes, Ph.D.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And, the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” ~ Steve Jobs
Steve’s career wisdom is provocative on several levels. Although I’m a huge fan of his products and much of his philosophy regarding design, excellence and even life, I feel that this quote presents a personal values-based version of career that is unrealistic and even undesirable for many; it also presents a mindset that could result in a career path of missed connections and dissatisfaction.
Although your work does comprise a large part of your life, for some people, work defines who they are and for others, work defines what they do to earn a living. A career takes place over the course of a lifetime; it results from the cumulative effect of a series of positions and work roles. Some positions serve as “means to an end” jobs; they teach us about the world of work and about our strengths, skills, values, potential added-value and motivators. Other positions, the ones that Steve refers to in his quote, are “ends in themselves” positions. These are the types of jobs that feel like personal callings.
Each approach to work – work is who you are or what you do – is a personal choice based on a myriad of personality and life factors. What is possible within each choice is to approach your work from a place of contribution and pride in work well done. This approach can shift each work task into a means to bring your best self into your work life. Imagine the possibilities for shifting a work environment through this mindset.
For additional insights and observations, check out the following posts: