Is Work Really ‘Work’? And Should It Be?

A colleague mentioned to me recently that they didn’t work. How do you collect a paycheck each week from a company, yet not work? If it isn’t work, then what are they doing for 40-50 hours a week? Playing golf? Eating? Sleeping? Having fun? Suddenly I realized that work should not feel like work. Who wants to have a job where every day is like plodding through 4 foot high snow in flip-flops? Not me! Sure, I like wearing flip-flips to work, but I will take the trimmed grass or the paved path. Someone else can have the snow.

As I look at my career, I feel very lucky. I found a job I actually like (and have fun at), and as it turns out I am relatively good at it. I spent many years of my life searching and analyzing what I like to do, and sought out ways to get paid to do just that. When I hear people talking about their job searches, it is not very often that I hear what a person’s passion is. Does no one have passion? If you can find it, then you can follow the path to enlightenment or at least a job that is not work, but fun.

When you like what you do, it is a lot easier to be good at it, don’t you think? Edison would not have been an inventor if he didn’t completely love every minute of it. He did spend every minute inventing, but not because it was work. It was his passion! He would not have tested thousands of ways to make a light bulb, unless he liked it and he found it rewarding.

Even if you are stuck (for the moment) in a job that isn’t your passion, try to find one thing you like about it. With that bit, think about other things you like to do. Discover your passion and follow your heart. Make this year the year to live your dream. Do what you love so you can live and feel like you are no longer ‘working’. Because no one really wants to work, do they?

Truth is Better Than Right

I was recently listening to the audio version of Innovate Like Edison and it was very enlightening (no pun intended). Edison discovered and designed through exhaustive experimentation. His belief was that without experimentation there could be no progress. Every experiment was an opportunity to learn something new and to invent something innovative you had to learn a lot of new things.

Experiments do not have to be limited to science, but can be used in everything that humans do. Getting kids ready for school in the morning, writing an e-mail, or soothing a crying baby all require experimentation of some sort. It isn’t just about knowing or guessing the right hypothesis, but instead is about understanding the results. What do the results means and what needs to be tested next? It could even mean using the results (what was learned) in a completely new way.

At 3M in 1968 Spencer Silver was trying to create a stronger glue, not a weaker one. The weak glue that was invented was considered a huge failure as far as the desired test result. With the information discovered (the glue is weak) it opened up possibilities that the glue could be used in another way – if only someone could identify a use. By 1980 a new use was discovered for the glue, and it has enjoyed a huge commercial success as the critical component of the Post-It note.

Any inventor has to accept the truth about the results of their experiment before they can see how the results can be used. Whether the experiment is with glue or with trying to get you kids to eat their vegetables at the dinner table, opportunity for learning abounds. So what experiment are you going to run today and what will you do with the results?