Labor and Love

Do you love what you do? Why not?

One of my favorite TV shows is Charlie Rose on PBS. The guy knows how to interview and his variety of guests is nothing less than astonishing. I’m a pretty religious watcher of the show, although sometimes the political ones don’t hold my interest.

I was particularly intrigued by a recent show with Zach Galifianakis. In between chuckles, Galifianakis talked about how, at an early age, his father told him to combine labor and love. It’s the single reason that he endured years of poorly populated stand-up gigs and varying degrees of despair over the course of his career. While he may be in a trove of shows and movies these days, he’s anything but an overnight success.

This got me thinking…do I combine labor and love?

In a word, yes. But it wasn’t always this way.

Back in Time

Let’s take a ride back on a time machine, as Rush recently did. In 1997, I graduated from Cornell University with a Master’s in Industrial and Labor Relations. I started working in corporate HR and it was soon obvious that it was a terrible fit for me. I think in terms of technology, data, systems, and general order–not exactly the types of things that would endear me to most HR folks. I just didn’t have the greatest capacity for appreciating the gray areas related to employee discipline, thorny people management issues, and other HR stuff. (Truth be told, I still don’t.)

I knew that I needed to make a change. Of course, it would take me a number of years with a number of different companies and roles. While not exactly sure of where I was going, I knew that I had to work closer with technology. I loved computers as a kid and I was pretty good at basic programming, problem solving, and testing. Today, I am very happy that I took that long, arduous path. When I explain to people my background in labor relations and how I now write about technology and management issues, most people shake their heads in disbelief.

Simon Says

No one loves what they do all the time. For many people, it’s sufficient to simply not hate their boss, company, and colleagues. For others searching for work, they’d take any job. But what about those looking for more than a paycheck? Mark me down as someone who enjoys actually liking what he does for a living–even if he makes less money in the process.

Anyone can make a change. I’m a case in point. It’s a little frustrating to hear people constantly whine about their jobs. Few people are conscripted into employment and, while life circumstances don’t mean that everyone has the freedom to just “up and quit”, I often wonder why more people don’t have long-term plans to combine labor and love.

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