Monday’s Meditation: On Whether Your Work Is Love Or Labor
I think it was Confucius who famously said, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Well, no offense to Confucius or whatever, but I would humbly disagree. Or, at least, I would recommend a slight altering of the phrase.
Having followed the old Chinese sage’s advice, I find myself with what would–if we were discussing the matter over coffee–superlatively be called, “the most possible work.”
Having started my own business, I’ve found, as I’m sure others who have started their own companies would corroborate, there is in fact far, far more work involved than one initially even conceives. At least at the outset, most entrepreneurs must wear all the hats, not merely the one attached to the skill or service they set out to deliver or perform.
The distinction, then, isn’t in the presence or absence of required effort, but rather in how we regard the work we do.
Work without love is just labor.
Labor depletes. It is one-directional effort where the direction is out, and over years the result is diminishment; a sucked dry-ness.
Work born out of love and carried out with love is nothing short of the universe moving ever-closer to perfect alignment, since it leads to spiritual fulfillment on both ends. Intentionally chosen work is an even exchange of energy, where the result is that both parties get exactly what they need.
Doing what you love doesn’t mean that you opt out of work, it means you turn your back on labor, which always feels as though it’s being orchestrated by someone outside you–someone who doesn’t and can’t know your true calling, and what’s worse, may not care.
Choosing to do what you love means that you know, no matter how much work is required–and even how exhausting it may feel at times!–there is still no other version of work you would rather be challenged by. There is no other work which will simultaneously ground you in your purpose and spread goodness, truth, and love into the world.
And yes, work that you love, on really good days, feels like play.
Each and every one of us has a unique calling, a gift that only we have within us to give to the world. And each and every one of us has the right and responsibility to work on figuring out what that is, and choosing to do it. In whatever capacity we can, in whatever industry it is.
Let yourself be called to do the work you’re here to do, not because there will be any less work involved, but because that work is your personal path to purpose-fulfilling, people-connecting joy.
Having followed that path from an early age in life, I can tell you: it’s pretty dang sweet.
And to you, who don’t yet know what it is you love to do most: Keep going. Keep listening. Keep paying attention to what you find yourself doing that makes you feel alive and in tune with something bigger than just you. If you want to, you’ll find it. And when you do, prepare for it to feel like the most obvious pursuit out of all the ridiculous, wild-haired schemes you might have dreamed up.
(Hint: if you find yourself saying, “This is the silliest thing ever; they’re actually going to pay me money for this?!” you’re on the right track.)
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