Find a job where you don’t go to work, you dash to work in excitement
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received did not hit me like a lightning bolt. But it did spark a slow simmer in my mind that I have returned to many times in the past 20 years, particularly in moments of difficulty and challenge, as a touchstone for ensuring I was on the right track.
It came from James Crowe, who was a telecommunications pioneer and founder of Level 3, a Fortune 500 company. I met him while I was finishing my executive MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School. At the time I did not know who he was, or how influential he was in my industry, but we struck up a conversation at lunch and the topic turned to finding motivation at work. What James said to our table was this: You should not just “go” to work—you should “run” to it.
Now, I admit, this might seem like an impossible standard. Our jobs are not something we do for fun. Work can be frustrating at times. But Mr. Crowe’s point was that despite the inevitable challenges, we should find a sense of meaning in our jobs that pulls us in, day after day. Our jobs should be more than an obligation. They should be something that is fulfilling, a future vision we can see and move proactively toward. Work takes up such a large part of our lives — we typically spend more hours a day with our colleagues than we do with anyone else. So to be truly satisfied, you need to be engaged in work that gets you excited enough to “run” to the office.
This notion of running to work is something I have come back to numerous times throughout my career as a temperature check. When I was in a role where I questioned my effectiveness, I would ask myself “Do I feel like I am running to work?” And if the answer was still “yes,” I would have the clarity to know I was in the right place, despite the short-term setbacks.
This idea might seem outdated in today’s work climate, where “quiet quitting” and #lazygirljob are trending on social media. But work is like any other relationship—you only get out of it what you are willing to put in. So I encourage you to find a job where you are wholeheartedly committed. If you believe in your purpose and ability to succeed, and you will wake up each morning wanting to lace up your (metaphorical) running shoes.