A poster set like the one above set it all off.
When I finally got around to reading the article “In the Name of Love“, I knew why I put off clicking on it the first dozen times it came around on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The sub-title of the article states, “Elites embrace the “do what you love” mantra. But it devalues work and hurts workers.” And that’s the gist of the opinion that was shared here.
“(Do What You Love) is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.”
Of course, as a career coach whose main goal in life is to help creative women discover & achieve their passionate careers (my tagline is “I wanna love what I do”, after all) – and as someone who went through this process myself (from pursuing an acting career and then finding & pursuing my next passion, life and career coaching) – I felt attacked.
The author goes on to call those following and heading the Do What You Love call as narcissistic, privileged, and anti-worker. But here’s the thing:
Doing What You Love – and encouraging others to do the same – does not mean you don’t acknowledge, care, or look down on those with “unglamorous work”.
I remember working as an apartment show-er (not shower!) in a luxury building in the Financial District back in ’00. I leased apartments to 22 year olds (same age as me back then) whose finance jobs right outta college gave them 6 figure salaries.
I was making $100/day.
Was I envious of the money they were making? Sure!
Did I ever for a second want their jobs on Wall Street? Hell no!
The apartment show-er job for me was a “dream job”, in a way.
It allowed me to make $12.50/hr (well above minimum wage), pick the 3-4 days each work I wanted to work around auditions I had lined up, utilize my communication and interpersonal skills, and not wait tables (which was torturous to me personally). That is what was important to me at the time, and allowed me to pursue my ultimate “dream job”: being a musical theater performer.
Did the finance people and NYU students and celebrities who I helped lease apartments to look down on me?
Was I less than them because my paycheck, responsibilities, and dreams were different than theirs?
I have no idea, actually. As my role model Judge Judy says, that would require me to look into the inner working of their mind, and I couldn’t do that.
Thankfully, I can’t remember an incident where I was made to feel stupid by anyone I was working with or for – in regards to my “menial” job or my “stupid” and “unrealistic” dream of being an actor.
I think the key is not assuming that a “dream job” for you is a “dream job” for anyone else.
Just because you can’t stand working in an office doesn’t mean that your brother can’t.
Just because you ultimately wanna work for yourself doesn’t mean that your colleague does.
Just because you want to open your own shop doesn’t mean that your bestie dreams of it.
So please, for the love of all that’s holy, find out what it is that’ll allow you to Do What You Love and go do it. Loving what you do is the surefire way to enjoy the time you spend on this planet, both working (the 86,000 hours of it!) and playing.
But along the way, be kind and generous to those whose dreams (and values! and priorities! and education! and skill set! and passions! and interests! and family situation!) are different than yours.
I can bottom-line this by quoting my 10 months ago self, “If you don’t care about what you’re doing, then you’re not gonna be happy. Case closed.”
That’ll allow us all to Do What We Love as well as Love What We Do – and each other.
Did you agree with that article? Are you following the Do What You Love mantra? I’d love to know in the comments!