Work Is Love Made Visible
For years, I’ve had a hot pink sticky note under the clear protector on my desk. It says, “Work is love made visible”. I don’t remember where I saw it, but it struck a chord, so I wrote it on the sticky note. (I also have a sticky note that says, “1) I’m not God. 2) This isn’t Heaven. 3) Don’t be an ass.”) During my morning meditation a few weeks back, the theme for this newsletter came into my head: Work is love made visible.
A few days ago, just before I got out of bed, a quote magically came to mind: “I wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” What a beautiful way to start my day! I knew it was from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. When I was in college, my mother gave me a copy of the book. She also made a beautiful wall hanging with that quote.
Later that morning, I sat down to write this newsletter around “Work is love made visible”. I wondered where it came from, so I googled it. (Wait for it!) Kahlil Gibran! There’s a link to his poem below. In case you’re not familiar with Gibran, there’s a link to his Wikipedia profile below.
Most of you know that I’m a civil engineer and that my professional experience is industrial wastewater treatment and hazardous waste management. There were many things I cherish about the earlier phase of my career: I traveled across the United States, worked on a project in Egypt for two months, and evaluated hazardous waste incinerators in Germany and Switzerland. I learned how things are made. I worked with talented people and clients.
But when I added the project manager hat to my senior engineer hat, I was totally unprepared. I had to learn the hard way that consulting is a business. While I’ve always been more comfortable than most about writing and public speaking, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about leading a team and figuring out the best ways to discover what my clients needed. And I certainly dreaded anything associated with business, especially developing new business.
The challenges were so uncomfortable for me that I even considered changing careers. However, the pain of figuring out what to do next was greater than staying put, so I reframed the challenges and chose to see them as opportunities to learn new skills. I learned how to be more effective (and efficient) at communicating with my clients and my teams, tracking the projects (and taking corrective action), getting invoices out, following up on them, understanding the ins and outs of contracts, and a little bit about developing new business. I grew to love it. I discovered that one of the strengths I brought to my role as project manager was developing younger staff on my teams. It gave me great joy. It still does. In fact, I leveraged that talent and that joy to create a successful business 23 years ago. Still going strong.
During that challenging time of figuring out what to do next, I read a book called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood, by Marsha Sinetar. It is a good book with lots of helpful ideas. But what I’ve learned over the past few years is that if I do my work with love, the joy will follow. I love what I do, and I do it with love. My work is love made visible. How fortunate am I?
Photo Credit: YouX Ventures on Unsplash https://unsplash.com/@youxventures
Read Kahlil Gibran’s poem about work: https://poets.org/poem/work-4
Read Kahlil Gibran’s Wikipedia profile: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahlil_Gibran