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What Brings You Joy in Your Work?

Some people live their lives as though joy were a very limited resource. As if they were allocated an amount at birth, squandered much of their share during childhood and must now, as responsible adults, hoard their remaining supply for some unspecified time in the future. Given these parameters, why would anyone in their right mind waste joy on work?

Let me think. Artists often do. Teachers do, I hope. The waiter at my favorite Wausau restaurant, The Back When Caf? does. The vendors I do repeat business with do. The most successful leaders I’ve known do. The organizations that thrive, year in and year out, do. If you agree with the conventional wisdom that joy is an endangered species, then these people are fools. The day will come when they’ll simply run out of their allotment of joy–and won’t you have the last laugh then. However, what if they’re wrong? What if you run out of life with your allotment of joy untouched?

Work is a great place to express joy. If you look, you’ll see that there are so many little opportunities for happiness when you work with people you respect, do tasks that make a difference, and use the talents you’ve been given. If you read that and don’t agree that your job affords those possibilities, then you’re either in the wrong job or not paying attention. No matter which is true, you can and should make some changes.

Remember these thoughts as you listen to the answers to this question. Do people find joy in their work at your organization? What are the implications for you if they don’t? You can help people find joy in their work by showing them how what they do matters. Many people in today’s workplace have no idea how the things they do on a daily basis affect the success or failure of their organization. A receptionist needs to understand that the way he answers a phone could make or break the biggest deal your organization may ever have. A filing clerk needs to know that her daily efforts make it possible for the customer service team to respond quickly to a customer request. A pipe fitter deserves to look at the architect’s drawing and know that, because of her efforts, the building she’s working on will shelter the children at a daycare center. It is your job to help all team members understand the importance of their work. Do that and watch the joy spread.