How to Love Your Job a Little Bit More
I know there are times when you’re showing up at your job and you’re not as excited as you might be. You’ve kind of lost the zest and the juice of the work you’re doing. If that rings true for you, consider these ways to re-engage with both the people around us and the work we do.
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Hey, I’m Michael Bungay Stanier from Box of Crayons, and, look, I know and I’m sorry to say this, but I know there are times when you’re going to work, showing up at your job, and you’re not as excited as you might be. You feel like you’re in a bit of a grind, stuck in a bit of a rut, going through the motions. You’ve kind of lost the zest and the juice of the work that you’re doing.
And it’s a sad place to be. I mean, it may not be terrible. You may not be suffering but you kind of lost your mojo a little bit. So I want to give you one way, one powerful way, that might bring a bit more love back into the work that you do.
And, you know, funny enough, it’s actually not about focusing on you, and it’s not even focusing on the work that you do. It’s actually about thinking about how are you showing up and interacting with the other people that you work with and you interact with. And I want to take you to a philosopher called Martin Buber. Now, I haven’t read a whole lot of his stuff but I do understand one of his key concepts, and it’s a very powerful, simple distinction.
And it says this: “You have two types of relationships in your life. Just two. There are I/it relationships and I/thou relationships.” I/it, so I slash it, and I thou—t-h-o-u. So, what’s an I/it relationship? It’s between you and an object, where you’re seeing the other person or the other thing as a thing, as a cog in a larger machine. You kind of lose a sense of their humanity.
And then there are the I/thou relationships. That’s when you remember just what this person is, who this person is. You see them in their full humanity. And my theory is this. I think there are times when we lose that mojo in our life, in the work that we do. What we’ve done is we’ve often lost sight of the I/thou relationships that we can have with those with whom we work. Everything’s kind of become a bit of an I/it about getting it done, about moving stuff through, about just staying on top of everything.
So my belief is this. That if you can actually think about re-engaging your relationships as I/thou relationships, it’s going to give you more love, more zest, more joy in the work that you do. And how do you do that? Well, there’s a real sense about how do you get to see the people you work with as the full complex, messy, lovable human beings that they truly are? Do you know what this person stands for? Are you assuming positive intent about what this person is doing? Are you seeing them in their, the kind of the fullness of who they are as a human being?
I know this is elusive stuff and it probably feels a little touchy-feely to some folks. Feels a little touchy-feely to me to be honest. But certainly, every time I remembered that people are trying their best, that people have happiness, they have sadness, that everybody’s fighting their own battle, when you remember that, is where reconnecting to their humanity, and in connecting to their humanity, you connect to your own humanity.