A Labor of Love
by Enette Pauzé
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
My son Zander asked me, “Why do you and Dad work so much?” Every day he sees us wake up, check emails, book meetings, consult with clients, teach classes, work on our computers, read books, or travel for speaking engagements. “Why don’t you and dad take more vacations, or watch more TV, or do what normal parents do?” Many of Zanders friends have parents who are working 9-5pm jobs to support their evening and weekend activities. They work to live, instead of living to work. Kids learn best through experiences, so instead of telling Zander an explanation, I said, “Let me show you.”
It was a Saturday morning, and the kids had finished their chores and were deciding what to do with the rest of their free time. At the age of 11yrs, Zander has three aspects to his definite major purpose – he loves to build things (Mindcraft, Lego, etc), he loves tumbling gymnastics, and he loves to create videos (usually of tumbling or things he’s built). One of his goals is to travel with me around the world, speaking together on the Power of the Family Mastermind (FMM).
I asked Zander, “To prepare for our FMM class, I want you to create a 5-minute video. In the video, I want you to show people why you love Mindcraft, including special things you have built, and the four learning questions you have in your master planning book. What do you need in order to create the video?” He replied, “I need permission to use my phone, access to the internet, $4 to buy a new Mindcraft skin, a proper screen recorder, a video editor, and about two hours.”
Zander disappeared for 30min, before resurfacing with his completed video. He’s notorious for racing through his work. I offered many suggestions, and while he was frustrated with having to make changes, he returned to his ‘studio’ to create another draft. In the next version, he had added more detail, a clip of him building a home, and background music. Again, I offered suggestions and corrections, and with another sigh of irritation and a big eye roll, he returned to his recording studio.
After several iterations, I noted that the video met my criteria and he had completed his 2hrs on the project. This time, Zander insisted he wasn’t finished yet. “Mom, could I please keep working on this project? I’m having so much fun and I really want to make the video better.” After more than 3hrs of dedication to his video creation, I had to pry him away from the project for a discussion.
“Zander, I’m really impressed by what you were able to create in less than 3hrs of work, using your own vision and creativity, and personal initiative. You went the extra mile in adding more details. This video is ready for our FMM class. I would like to pay you for your work.” He was shocked. “What?! Why would you pay me? I didn’t do anything. I had fun, played video games and created videos all afternoon. I pretty much just goofed off. I would have done that for free.”
Like many people, Zander assumed that his efforts were not worthy of payment because it didn’t feel like work. He had fun. He was able to use his creative genius. He worked to his own deadlines. He invested his time doing exactly what he would have done on a Saturday, even if I hadn’t assigned the video project.
We talked about his frustration and irritation when I asked him to make changes to the video. He agreed that at first, it was annoying, and it made him mad. He had to re-do steps, and it took him longer than he expected. He had to change screen recorders because the two didn’t work. It was a challenge to find the right background music. He had to re-build an entire building because the old one was destroyed. But each time, he took a deep breath and went back work.
He also realized that the video got better each time he made changes. It felt good and rewarding to produce a better-quality product. He bought new Mindcraft skin because it looked more professional. It was a snowball effect – every time the video got better, he was more enthusiastic to share it and refine it even further. He could see that the quality of his work was important to him. He even came up with two other video ideas for the FMM class.
We talked about creating value for people by helping them achieve a goal or solve a problem, and how we deserve to be rewarded for providing a service to other people. Specifically, we brainstormed how the video he created will help kids learn to set goals and have an action plan. We talked about what the word ‘work’ really means, and Zander realized that it’s just another word for serving or helping people.
“Zander, how would it feel to get paid to play Mindcraft or do gymnastics, and turn what you learn into videos that help people solve problems? Would it feel like work?” He thought for a moment, wondering if it was a trick question. “I would love that. And I’d probably want to spend more time making videos. It wouldn’t feel like work. It would feel like I get to do what I love.”
“Remember earlier today when you asked me why Dad and I work so much?” How do you feel about that question now?” Zander’s eyes lit up because he made the connection. “You and dad like your work, just like I like to play Mindcraft, do gymnastics tumbling, and create videos. And you work all the time because you love what you do, and it doesn’t feel like work at all. So really, you just goof off all day like kids do!”
We all have moments of pure love and joy, doing something for ourselves or other people. It might not have a job title, and you probably don’t call it work because it’s fun. The feeling we experience when doing what we love is a fuel so powerful, we can direct it to overcome any challenge we face in the process. We go the extra mile. We do it with enthusiasm. We spontaneously set goals and bigger challenges we want to tackle. We are often willing to do what we love for free because our desired payment isn’t a cash reward; it’s the feeling of fulfillment we experience while doing the thing we love. Being paid for doing something we love is like receiving a bonus from the universe.
Every day you can work to live or live to work (serve) by doing your labor of love – the choice is yours.