Work is love made visible, and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, to one another, and to God…and if you cannot work with love, but only with distaste then you should go sit at the gates of the temple and beg alms of those who work with joy.” — from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
When I shared this quote with my Dad, who at the time was an active 84-year-old with a vivid memory of the depression and World War II, he said, “I like the first part, but I’m not so sure about the begging.”
The point is that people who work with love care enough about their work, themselves, and others to give, to commit their best.
What Does It Mean to Care Enough to Give Your Best?
Care Enough about Your Work
Care motivates. When you care about your work you see the benefits of making every effort to be and do your best. When you encounter obstacles, you focus on what matters, find ways to get beyond the obstacles, and move forward.
You know your work. You are clear about what you do, why you do it, why it matters and to whom. You know what forms and informs your work, its scope, tasks, goals, and challenges. You know what you need to do your work well.
You seek support to ensure that you have or have access to the necessary skills and capabilities to complete tasks, accomplish goals, and fulfill mission. You get to know the people that you work with, their roles, responsibilities, interests, and concerns. You learn where their commitments lie, what they care about.
Care Enough about Yourself
You know, respect, and understand yourself. You appreciate your strengths, accept your limitations, and are willing to serve. You acknowledge the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit so that your daily routines include healthy habits of diet, exercise, rest, and relaxation. You care for your whole self. You build and maintain the skills, stamina, and capacity to complete your work well and to support others.
You remain calm under pressure. Because you equip yourself with a wide range of effective coping strategies, you are able to use each as appropriate, to remain composed, and effective.
Care Enough about Others
You work well with others in a spirit of teamwork. You appreciate the diverse needs, preferences, and strengths that each person brings to your work. You surrender your ego’s desires for power and status in service to the common good.
You encourage others to give their best. Together, you set guidelines for performing tasks and completing work. You speak your truths, and deal with each other in patience and kindness when things get tense. You work through problems and celebrate accomplishments.
You acknowledge others and respond to their requests. If you cannot meet their needs, you say so and direct them to other people and resources who can.
You provide feedback to each other, both positive and negative, in respectful ways that strengthen understanding, trust, and cooperation.
Seven Ways to Give Your Best to Your Work, Yourself, and Others
1. Center yourself. Set aside 10 – 20 minutes each day to think about your work, yourself, and those you serve. Deep-breathing, quiet reflection, introspection, and meditation are all ways to center and focus.
2. Get to work on something that matters to you. According to one expert, work (that matters) produces a sense of effortless action, felt moments, that stand out as “best moments”, presumably because challenges and skills tend to be high when working, goals and feedback are often clear and immediate.”
3. Get clear about what you expect from your work. Here are just a few expectations that represent what people want from work: money, power, personal satisfaction, professional promotion, creative self-expression, social support and interaction, enjoyment and well-being, interest and meaning, stability, structure, collaboration, commitment. Which of these apply to you and to those who work with you?
4. Establish standards for your work. Establish standards by which you can measure the what, when, how, and who of your work. What you do, when you do it, how you approach it, and who you serve. When you satisfy your standards you fulfill your purpose at the best time and in the best way.
5. Ask for what you need. Ask people to help and support your work whenever and only when you need to. When you ask, include specific information that will help them help you.
6. Follow-up and follow through. Supply information, resources, and results. Answer questions, address concerns, and time your work to meet schedules and due dates.
7. Get and give structured feedback about performance. Feedback provides opportunities to review progress toward objectives and results, provide positive recognition for accomplishments, identify and solve problems, uncover and deal with resistance, and provide information for establishing new goals and objectives.