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Thrive at Work: How to do More than Survive your Job


We all have tough days at work. Sometimes it doesn’t stop with a single 8 hour shift, but instead rolls over into a rough week or even a terrible month. However, hope remains to permanently remove yourself from a rut. And a call center CFO’s perspective is exactly what it’s going to take to not simply survive, but to truly thrive at work.

image of a woman who has learned how to thrive at work

Recently, a friend of mine called and said she was having a very tough day at work, hated that day’s particular tasks, and just couldn’t wait for it to be over. This reminded me of a time years ago when someone much wiser than I helped me through a similar day.  The sage advice he gave me has withstood the test of time and has enabled me to truly thrive at work.

I write about it here because it is an excellent management tool.  It is a piece of advice we can all benefit from, and we can help our employees reach greater heights if we pass it along to them. However, we can’t just “tell” this advice to our employees.  We have to live it, breath it, believe it, embrace it, and let it totally envelope us.

You won’t look at a tough day, or mundane, repetitive tasks that you may hate to do, the same way after you hear this very sage advice.  That’s why I’m deliberately stalling.  I don’t want to give the secret up too soon or you won’t believe it…you won’t grasp its meaning….you will hurry off, not having understood how to thrive at work, complaining that you have more disliked tasks to do before letting it soak in….

So, we will get to it soon.  First let’s talk “around” it.  What you will read may have been said before, perhaps in that inexplicable form of the English language we call “corporate speak”. Perhaps you read something like it in a “positive quotes” column somewhere.  Perhaps you never have heard it and it will be totally foreign to you.

Either way, you didn’t act on it, or absorb it, or fully comprehend it, else you wouldn’t be reading this blog, holding your breath.  Perhaps you are tapping your foot, starting to get impatient….well, it’s worth the wait.

Most of us are all too familiar with the books, seminars, lectures, blogs, white papers and podcasts that have been released and devoted to the singular idea of “do what you love and success will follow” as the key to thrive at work. But that message is lost on people like my friend who are not doing what they love.  She is a graphic artist, working as a business analyst. Sure, she would love to spend her time creating visuals of commercial artistic ideas. Instead she gets to draw diagrams of work flow processes. So, she called and moaned about her day and the corporate meeting she had to attend, from which she said, she emerged knowing less than when she went into the meeting.

Image of a woman thriving at workAt this point, many books and thought leaders would speak some corporate mumbo-jumbo which has been repeated over and over, like some kind of magical mantra which amounts to nothing more than memorized phrases like:  “you will grow from the discipline you learn having to do things you hate,” or “buck up and get going — stop whining,” or “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” or “take a minute or two, close your eyes, relax, think peaceful thoughts”  — among many other meaningless platitudes which say nothing, but are supposed to somehow inspire and guide you through it.

Well, here is what I told her.

If you want to be successful, and happy, and get through the mundane, repetitive tasks that you hate; if you want to somehow turn that time into an opportunity to learn and to grow; if you want to truly ascend the mundane and turn it into something  worthwhile; if you want to really thrive at work,  you must first and foremost care about it.

Why care about something you dislike?  Because, you are spending your precious life on earth doing it. It doesn’t matter what it is, I told her.  If you are spending your time, your life, your energy, your brain power on something, the least you can do is care about it.

The books that say, “do what you love” are headed in the right direction with their message. But, the point that needs to be made, is to do everything you do with as much love as you can pour into it.  I told my friend, when you are charting out a process, don’t let your mind wander to what you think you could be doing if you had your dream job.  Instead, focus your attention like a laser beam as you chart out that process.  Do this task with thought, with love, and with care.  Do it this way because you are spending your time on this and spending your life on this, and spending your energy on this.  Instead of fighting a task you don’t want to do, embrace it as you would embrace the things you would love to do.

As long as it is important enough to you to spend your time doing it, then fill your actions with care and love.  That’s what the real message of those books should be.  When the authors say “do what you love”, they should be saying “do it with love” and you won’t be able to help but thrive at work.

Love is a big word, and often not one we hear in corporate speak. But it should be said more often.

Nurture yourself by being positive about what you are doing…don’t spend your time being downbeat…it’s a waste.  Unless you like wallowing in negativity, stop complaining about your bad day, and those tasks you hate to do.

Instead, it’s a day.  It’s a day that required more attention, more love, more devotion, more care than perhaps you thought it might, but it’s a day.

And, I must warn you, when you start your day by looking at all of those teammates around you and all of those tasks you hate, with a compassionate eye, bringing care and love to all that you do, those things you hate will stop being so hard to do.  The people you may not especially like will stop seeming so terrible.  Everything, bit by bit, will become easier, more positive, more productive, and others will even begin to notice the way you thrive at work.

You will reach a point where you may never love those tasks you hate, but you will love and respect yourself, your time, and your life too much to do anything with less than your best effort, your care, your concern, and all the love you have.

Carry on, carry over…

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