Love Your Work or Don’t Work at All

Why is it that so many people are willing to tolerate work they don’t enjoy for the sake of a paycheck? I think it’s because most of them simply don’t know what it’s really like to be in love with their work. Their fear is greater than their power, so they never make the leap into the unknown to find out what it’s like to work from love instead of for money.

Consider the following quote from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:

Work is love made visible.

And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Is he exaggerating when he writes that it’s better to leave work you dislike and take alms from those who enjoy their work? If you know what it’s like to really love your work, then you’ll probably see this is no exaggeration.

When you do work you dislike, you poison your output. If that is the only work you’re capable of doing, you’re better off doing nothing. Meet your needs by asking for hand-outs if you must, since at least you won’t be poisoning others with your fear and resentment.

If you cannot work in a state of joy, don’t work at all. Otherwise you’re doing more harm than good, both to yourself and others, even if you have the talent to sing like an angel. No amount of money can compensate for that kind of damage.

Decide today that you’ll manufacture no more poison.

Don’t settle for less than you’re worth. Demand of yourself that you’ll do work you love — or no deal. Your negative emotions aren’t there to annoy you or distract you. They’re shouting at you, “This is wrong. You must do something else.” No amount of self-discipline or denial can silence your inner truth.

Instead of turning away from those feelings of fear and resentment, turn towards them. Engage them head on. Dialog with them. Journal your way through them. Tune in and listen to them as deeply as you can. Get in touch with that deeper part of yourself you’ve been wishing would just go away so you can fit in. You aren’t here to settle, to fit in, or to work for money. You’re here to shine. And if you’re not in a position where you can truly shine today, then simply up and leave. Now.