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Thoughts on Life & Work: Love

This post originally appeared from Mark McClain’s LinkedIn article series, Life & Work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely owned by the author. 

Early in my life, I was introduced to a list of characteristics that were penned by the ancient Saint Paul, a first-century contemporary and follower of Jesus. It always fascinated me that this list—Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control—ended with the phrase “against such things there is no law.” As I got older, it occurred to me that we have a bunch of rules in our society against a lot of things, so I figured this list might be worth revisiting to see if, in fact, it was true that these things were universally admirable. In short, I think Paul was right. And further, I believe these traits not only serve us well in life but also at work.

With my big 6-0 birthday looming this spring, I have found myself reflecting on many “big” topics about Life & Work—and what I’ve learned that might be useful to folks earlier along in their journey. So, I decided it might be helpful to some of you to share my musings in a series of posts, using these attributes from Saint Paul as my base.

I’ll start with the first: Love. (In other words, I thought I would start with something “easy” …or at least as “easy” as Love can be in Life & Work!). Love, which is most often viewed as an emotion, is usually accepted as the idea of a strong affection/attachment for something/someone. However, if you stop and think about it a little bit more deeply, it often involves not just emotion, but the idea of some willing, active level of sacrifice for the good of the object of Love.

There are myriad examples. Not only have people been known to give their very lives for Love of country or spouse or friend; they also routinely go out of their way to provide care for a pet, drive a bit further for their favorite pizza, or travel out of town at great expense to see their favorite team play a game. So, our Love of something not only captures our emotions but also routinely affects our will, leading us to sacrifice at one level or another, big and small.

But before I digress too far down this philosophical path, let’s return to the idea of applying these thoughts at work. At one level, it seems straightforward: those who are happiest with a job or career generally “Love” their work. And, it isn’t easy to Love your work if you don’t at least enjoy your colleagues to a large degree (although I’ve certainly met people who managed to like their work and barely tolerate their co-workers!). But again, thinking a bit deeper, it seems that the idea of a “healthy” Love for work and colleagues comes right back to the ideas of affection (emotion) and sacrifice (will).  

Love, while often requiring us to give of ourselves, seems to be at the core of everything we consider good and noble. We celebrate the Love we have for our families and friends, our pets, and our teams and rarely hesitate to sacrifice for their good. But to apply this in a Monday-Friday sense, I believe that work itself can, and should, be good and noble.

For those struggling to make their next career move or get their career off the ground, I want to offer this piece of advice: If you want to enjoy your work truly, find a field and career that you care about a great deal – work you love. Because once you’re in it, it may “cost you” at times. You’ll very likely find yourself demonstrating “Love” in the workplace by sacrificing occasionally to prove that you really care about your customers, partners, and colleagues. 

In our company, I hope to routinely demonstrate my Love for my work and my colleagues by not only expressing my affection and admiration for them as people, but also by sacrificing some of my time and energy for the good of the company and my teammates. When I do, I experience a much greater level of fulfillment, making me the kind of fellow worker people want on their teams. I’m fortunate to see this all day, every day, with my friends and colleagues at SailPoint. They Love their work, and they Love each other. It’s a great place to spend the bulk of my waking hours during the week.

In summary, my counsel is simple: Love your work. Love your colleagues. Enjoy them, and tell them how much you appreciate them. Regularly. When the situation warrants (and it often does), sacrifice to make them and the work you do together better. When all has been said and done, it’s just a better way to live at work.