Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

What about your work do you love, love, love…

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It’s been a hard week. I lost a bid to do work I was perfect for. Ouch! It’s hard to step back and take a rejection objectively.

A good friend reminded me that losing a proposal bid is rarely personal–but more often about politics and preferences. I later found out that I hadn’t really lost–the organization just decided to do the work internally. But I only learned this after spending a day scraping myself off the floor.

Telling me not to take things personally is like telling a Springer Spaniel not to chase a squirrel. Good advice, but…

On my little spiral down into questioning everything, I began to wonder why I do my work. Fortunately, that night I had an online meeting with a group of three other women, super-talented artist/entrepreneurs. When it was my turn to share, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about my work. Viewing my body language on the computer screen, I saw someone who looked cramped and collapsed, like a moth trying to squeeze her way back into a cocoon.

My voice sounded like I had been swatted. But as I talked about why I thought I would have been so good for the project, I said with some animation, “What I love, love, love about my work is watching people tell their stories in a circle and come alive.”

Bingo. Something happened. I started to come alive. Pepped up. Gestured. Started to fly again.

One of my wise colleagues picked up on this and noticed that my expression, “What I love, love, love…” had helped turn things around.

She suggested an exercise that I pass on to you.

Love, love, love: an exercise

There are days, like the one I just experienced, when asking yourself what you like to do or even love to do doesn’t cut it.

It’s so easy to sound reasonable (yawn.)

But when you ask yourself what you love, love, love to do, you aren’t asking for reasonableness. You’re asking for passion, energy, and sparkle. You’re asking about work that is so irrefutably yours that you would do it without being paid–although hopefully you’ll be paid a lot because you’re so good at it.

This is GREAT practice for writing about yourself or creating an “About” page for your website (see below).

What about your work do you love, love, love?

(I did the exercise thinking about work but you could do it about other areas of your life as well.)

Write it out. If you are unsure about what you’re writing, speak the words out loud and check out the energy. Can you hear excitement?

Gone was the jargon designed to look good. Gone were the words like efficiency, effectiveness, value-added, strategic, or results-oriented. What came to me instead were real examples of working at my best and helping others.

From my list:

  • I love, love, love guiding a group to tell stories and then watching them be moved by each other.
  • I love, love, love helping someone develop a story that leaves her or him feeling proud and competent.
  • I love, love, love helping a team get out of its own way.
  • I love, love, love performing a story and hearing from audience members about how they were moved.
  • I love, love, love watching board members tell stories about why they’re committed to their organization.
  • I love, love, love project-planning on a big, clean whiteboard.
  • I love, love, love supporting someone to take a risk to speak up.
  • I love, love, love writing posts, and seeing the chimp from Mailchimp give me the high five that lets me know the post is on the way to you.

My list goes on, but I’ll spare you.

In describing my work, if  I’m tempted to use a word like empowerment, I think about a specific example and remember the look in someone’s eyes. Thinking about the story always grounds my words.

If you have your own website with an “About” page, this exercise will take you into the heart of what you do and invigorate your copy. Spare yourself the weighty, well-written, important-sounding words I used for too many years. They keep people from feeling your special greatness.

Once you’ve tapped into the energy of love, love, love, you can edit your copy accordingly. You don’t have to include those words to convey the freshness and passion you’ve discovered. People will feel you more.

And remember what they love, love, love about you.


One Response

  1. My brain goes on and on about what I love, love, love about being a small frog in the large pond of libraries., and when it all started.

    It was the Jones Library in Amherst. I remember so clearly waiting after I had been to something or other – ballet classes, school – waiting in the children’s room at the library. Relaxed on the leather couch in the children’s room, in front of the fire in the fireplace, with my feet up on the couch, reading…..that would have been early elementary school.. When IO was 16 I got a job as a paige, and gradually moved up from mending books, to being the person who did story hours, worked in the adult room, and just knew I wanted to be a librarian. Life intervened, and for a while I did volunteer work at the library in Orleans, was on the Board of Trustees, was on the Board of the Friends of the Library. And then an opportunity came for me to take library science classes – which I did, and got my professional certification. At which point I worked in a private high school in Brewster, went from there to being assistant librarian at the Chatham High School, at eh same time that I was taking courses to complete my bachelor’s degree I was also working as a clerk at a high end store in Orleans known as Tree’s Place, when I learned that Eastham was looking for a librarian. I was accepted, and worked my dream job for the next 20 years.

    And then there was the move to Charlton, and again my life became caught up in libraries. Oxford for five years, Sutton for six, being an intermin Librarina in Chalton, then being on the Board of Trustees and and Building Committee. I also volunteered at a local hospital and a couple mornings a week helped take care of quadruplets in a neighboring town. And I knit, and I quilted, and I gardened.

    When it comes down to why I love what I do – the bottom line seems to be that I like to make other people happy. And it is possible and probable that I felt happy when I was in the library with my feet up on the couch, in front of the lit fireplace, with a book in my hand. Peaceful. And a small part of a wonderful world that I have LOVED< LOVED< LOVED, sharing and making it possible for other people to love.

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