Work is what grown ups do

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Larry Winget wrote the book It’s Called Work for a Reason. His opening line says it all.

“As soon as you know what has to get done, do it. It’s as simple as that. Just do what absolutely has to get done. I didn’t say you should do only that, but I did say do that. Do it first. Don’t do anything else until it is done. Even if you have an overwhelming amount you would like to get done and it should be done, do what absolutely has to get done. If that is the only thing you get done all day, you will be better off for having done it. It really is that simple. Know your priorities.”

At Thought Leaders Business School we teach participants that the goal is to do work you love, with people you like, the way you want. We say that you should live without compromise. Don’t compromise on your finances, don’t compromise time with your family, don’t compromise rest and holidays, don’t compromise anything. It’s very appealing. It’s also quite a nuanced concept.

Some people (incorrectly) interpret this mantra as ‘I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.’

This has nothing to do with a hedonistic life or practice. (Hedone, is the Greek goddess of pleasure, enjoyment and delight. We're all for that, it's just not what we’re talking about here). If pure hedonism was the game, no one would ever subject themselves to the challenge of writing a book.

When I’m aiming to do work I love, I’m not aiming for pleasant, pleasurable, easy or fun. Great when it is, but that’s not my intent, and definitely not my expectation 100 percent of the time.

As Larry says, it's called ‘work’ for a reason. It’s often difficult, taxing … it stretches us. On the plus side, it’s worthy, and is something that we get a great sense of accomplishment from. I think it’s more like a hard session at the gym than a good party.

A life of no compromise is not a world without work. When you're caught in the bind of doing work that doesn’t inspire you, dig a little deeper, push through, have some grit. Sometimes it’s about time horizons and delayed gratification, work now so you can play later.

Angela Duckworth in her brilliant book Grit talks about this a bit and explores the idea of performance flow; that feeling of being in a state of euphoria and deliberate practice; the intense uncomfortable work of pushing through limits and set points. She concludes that top performers work deliberately on what’s not easy or comfortable and then perform in flow.

If you’re running your own practice, you get to design what work you love looks like. But make no mistake, it’s still work.