Last Thursday, I wrote a column here called “Why Work?” I was hoping that we could break away from thinking about the income we tend to quickly associate with jobs and working for a living, and think about some other motivators, and some other satisfiers. Yes, income is a necessity of life, and I do not deny it is a strong motivator, but once you get enough to satisfy your basic needs and a bit more, you quickly discover that cash isn’t everything. Not by a long shot. It is just the beginning, because we human beings need more than money to love this thing we call “true living.”

Personally, I love working, and the feelings I associate with work are those I wish for everyone; happier people treat other people better and are nicer to be around. Just think how much better customer service would be if you never again had a grumpy service provider who barely disguised their displeasure with their job (and with you annoying them into doing it).

The reason I write, coach and speak about Ho‘ohana, the value of worthwhile work, is that great work done really well is how even greater stuff happens.

There are no givens. It takes work to move us forward; work breaks us free from stagnancy and inertia. And groundbreaking successes, no matter how you want to define them, takes the effort and focus of passionate, feels-important work. No one said this was easy, and frankly, I think ‘not easy’ has its merits. There is considerable value in hard work.

I think my column fell short last week for you, and I need to thank Tony Clark and Chris Cree for the help they gave me in salvaging it.
—Tony wrote: What are you Working For? and
—Chris wrote: Work Where Your Passion Is, and then
—Tony wrote: Why Settle for Just One Path? which (I’m guessing) may have inspired
—Chris to do this: Contemplating a Bit of a Course Change

In other words, they worked harder at this subject than I had. They got great stuff to happen. Thank you guys.

As with “Why Work?” The coach in me tends to asks questions, and then wait a bit before glibly handing out answers; I feel I’ve given you more when you have to think harder to come up with the answers yourself. Tough love has its place; it can prep you for the reality of a life in which answers don’t come easy. It can help banish an entitlement mentality, and help us groom a better work ethic. It can deliver this aha! moment where we realize that all that gritty, nose-to-the-grindstone work felt pretty terrific both in the doing of it and in the result.

And the right work? Well, it can be that meaning-of-life kind of question, can’t it.

Finding the work that you are perfectly suited for is a tough thing, and finding that work which you are passionate about, AND getting compensated for it fairly – or better yet, exorbitantly – is even tougher. Tough to impossible. If you go looking for that perfect job, you are in for a journey on which you have to try a lot of things, you have to make a lot of sacrifices, and you have to hope that in the process you get surrounded by decently good people whom you’ll like to be with.

That’s “finding” and “looking for” the right work. For most people, the problem with their right-job/passionate-work search, is that they are looking for something which very likely does not even exist. They are trying to uncover a package deal which consists of a bunch of variables designed by someone else needing a job to get done, not work to be lived passionately by the person doing it. There’s a big difference.

The break the mold alternative, is creating your own right work first, and then figuring out how to get compensated for it second.

Right work is work you make happen on your own terms. You cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, and you work for profit and not for a paycheck. Next you market what you produce; whether it be invention, talent, skill, or knowledge. You become a highly marketable, wildly desirable commodity that people are all to willing to pay for the privilege of having. It’s rarely a chore for you to produce more of what they might want from you, because you started off loving the doing of it in the first place. You are fueled by passion, you get affirmation and recognition when the marketing delivers sales, and the cash becomes gravy.

Now understand that you can do this for an employer and need not have your own business. Profit versus paycheck is a state of mind and an attitude, it’s part of financial literacy. Think of marketing what you love to do as qualifying an employer and getting into the interviewer’s seat yourself. You are not looking for the perfect job; you are interviewing buyers for what you do. You are offering to deliver to them the perfect role that up to now was missing in their company. They need you, not just the job. They are paying for you, not for a task they can train someone cheaper to do.

This creation of yours may not be less work; it may be more, but only for the short term. In my case? 24 years of looking, until I got smarter and spent 3 years of creating. It may take longer for you (or not), and yes, you may need to work in a 9-5 job you hate so you can pay the bills while you are creating it. Chaulk it up to the character and work ethic you need to cultivate anyway. For believe me, unless you are incredibly lucky —exceedingly, unbelievably, astoundingly, amazingly blessed and lucky —the right work, YOUR right work, is something you have to make, stamping it with your personal, one-of-a-kind brand. It is not something you look for and find.

I would also suggest:


Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. Her most recent online collaboration effort is JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network. For more of Rosa’s ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com.

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