Here’s the first point of distinction between Ms. Scivicque’s interpretation and mine: choosing a job you love does not necessarily mean choosing a job for which you have a passion. You can love the fact that your nonprofit helps kids connect with mentors, but still hate picking up the phone. You can love technology, but hate dealing with people who don’t know how to make their router work. In other words, you can love what your business does, but not what you do in your business.
Here’s another important difference between my interpretation of the quote and Ms. Scivicque’s: doing a job you love does not mean you will not have to expend effort, or that there will not be struggles and challenges along the way. I do not believe that working at a job you love will always be fun or easy – only that jobs that reflect who we are in what they call on us to actually do provide satisfaction in a way that jobs we’re only doing for the money never will.
The meaning of the quote turns on the word ‘work’ and how different people perceive the word. So many of us define the word from a completely economic point of view, rather than what we do to develop our innate gifts and talents. From this economic viewpoint, work consists of activities that we don’t even like, much less love, and that we would prefer to avoid.
I view work as part of being human. It is something we do because we are alive, and part of the human imperative is to do as well as to be. Work, by its very nature, requires effort – skills must be developed, talents discovered, old abilities refreshed and new capacities revealed.
But effort and drudgery are not the same thing.
Work, as Fredrick Buechner’s defined it, is “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” Work is not something to be avoided or transformed; rather, it is something to embrace. Why? Because it illuminates our excellence, both to ourselves and others.
Does my interpretation of Confucius’ quote differ from that of Ms. Scivicque and Mr. McRaney? Absolutely! And perhaps from yours as well. That’s okay with me – the innate differences between people are what my work is all about.
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