Do you know yourself well enough to know what you love?
That question should be the basis for how we talk about work. But we don’t ask it nearly often enough. And we don’t ask it early enough. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a “What Do You Love?” class for eleven-year-olds that asked them, “When was the last time a day flew by?” Because every eleven-year-old knows the answer to that. And every single eleven-year-old’s answer will be different.
For one kid, it might be skateboarding. For another kid, it’s going to be as specific as playing an original song on a twelve-string guitar to a small group of people. Each answer will be so unique that we would never know unless we asked. But we should ask, because even at eleven we know what we love.
And then somewhere along the way, we dismiss it. We shove it aside, as though it’s one of the childish things we need to put away when we grow up. Then we spend our entire teenage years trying on somebody else’s personality because we haven’t really been given a chance to dive into what it is that we love. After that, at companies, we hire these people who have no details, no vivid answer to that most important question. They don’t know what it is that they love. They have grades, but you can’t love grades. They need to know what they are drawn to. When does time fly by for them? How can we get them doing more of that?
We need a way to get people thinking about that early, because then we’d be able to hire more loving people. These people would do better work, be more creative, build better teams, be more resilient, and be more generous. We’d have a better society.
It all starts with giving people the chance to love what they do, and making that the way we think about work.