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In my work as an advocate for people to find jobs, I insist that the people who work for me enjoy their own jobs, and this includes the recruiting team. I expect the recruiters I work with to thoroughly enjoy, appreciate, and respect the people they are helping to find work.
Everything we do is affected by our mindset. Your mindset needs to be in the right place with regard to your work. A good mindset is a foundation for success. A poor mindset makes for job dissatisfaction, frustration, and long days, and, ultimately, can bring about failure. This is why enjoying what you are doing, and enjoying it immensely, is key.
Many people cannot seem to grasp this simple but powerful perspective, so I would like to elaborate on it a bit. I think it is one of the most important perspectives one can have. It will change the way you look for a job, and if you really get it, it can really help you achieve success in your life and career. After my first semester at the University of Chicago, I had a mandatory meeting with a counselor. I had gotten a 3.3 average for that semester despite taking a difficult calculus class and several advanced classes that had made me study harder than I ever had in my life. I was feeling pretty good about myself for getting these kinds of grades.
In the meeting, the counselor asked me what profession I wanted to go into after graduation. I told her that I was interested in going to law school. She told me that if I wanted to have a “shot in hell” of going to a top law school, specifically the University of Chicago, that I would need a minimum of a 3.6 grade point average. That meant my B+ GPA wasn’t good enough. I would need to score at least an A- for the rest of my time in college. At the time this seemed like an impossibility.
I spent several weeks that semester thinking about how I could achieve this goal, and I worked even harder than I had worked to get my 3.3 average. Then, it hit me: I would get As if I simply took classes that I loved and knew I would do well in. Over the next three and a half years, that’s exactly what I did. I took classes in anthropology that studied African cultures. I took a class where I studied my hometown of Detroit. I took classes where I got to study and write about the personalities of American presidents throughout history. I loved these classes and my plan worked. In fact, in my junior year of college, every single grade I received was an A, except for one A-. This was not because I was smarter than other people. It was because I did what I loved and I was enthusiastic about all the work I had to do. I absorbed more information, I read more in my free time, I wrote more, I talked more in class–in short, my passion came through.
During this same time, I saw other students flunk out of school or come close to doing so. Many students had parents pushing them to be doctors or business majors. These students took one class after another that they hated and in which they did poorly. I watched all of this going on around me while I continued to read about tribes in Africa, and to take courses about fossils and other things that interested me.
When all was said and done, I ended up with great grades and a real love for school. I ended up having more opportunities, job offers, law school admissions, and so forth than I would have had if I had followed the pack and done what I believed I was supposed to.
I think the world would be a much better place if everyone followed his or her passion. People would enjoy work more and success would be much sweeter. I know that my career and life would be vastly different than they are right now if I hadn’t chosen to do what I loved.
Several years later, as I was spending 12 hours a day in an office tower in downtown Los Angeles practicing law, I thought of this advice again. See, I did not love what I was doing at the time. In fact, I did not even really like what I was doing–not to the degree I knew I should. As I investigated options for other employment I spoke with legal recruiters, and, incredibly, that sort of job had major appeal to me. I liked the creative aspect of it. I liked the fact that I would be able to do research the way I wanted. I liked that I would be able to speak with lots of people. I liked that I would be able to write. I liked that I would have more control over how much I earned. I knew instinctively, deep down, that this job was something I could love and do forever.
I quit the practice of law, walked away from job offers, and started being a legal recruiter. In the beginning I of course had no income whatsoever–but I was pursuing something I loved doing. Despite having had a good salary as an attorney, despite the prestige, despite all of the work I had put into becoming an attorney, I knew that I would ultimately be much happier as a legal recruiter than I would ever be practicing law. I also knew that loving my work would make me a better recruiter, far better than I ever would have been as an attorney.
The hardest thing about this career change was that it was going against what everyone told me I should do. Leaving the practice of law disappointed my parents and made me look something like a fool to the other attorneys I was working with. My law school classmates could not understand my decision either. It was just not what people expected of me. It was, however, what I wanted for myself.
Sometimes you need to take charge and understand that when you love what you are doing, it changes everything. We are naturally better at the activities we love, and doing what we love simply makes us much happier.
There is a final point I would like to make: When you find what you love doing and you practice it with passion, you are able to touch more people with your work, and you create much more value in the world. You inspire more people around you, and more people want to work with you. You also fulfill a higher purpose and discover a life with deeper meaning. No matter who or where you are, you can bring greater worth to the world and to yourself when you find exactly what it is that gives you joy. Success will surely follow.
For example, there was a woman who worked in the restaurant up the street from me, where I would often go to eat as a child. She was always so enthusiastic about her job, and just seemed so happy to be there. This woman was the best waitress I had ever seen, and it still stands to this day.
I imagined that this woman, at one time, might have had to choose from a couple of career options. One choice might have been to take an office job as a file clerk. If she had worked in an office, she would have the prestige of that office, a steady paycheck, and coworkers to collaborate and be social with. Her other option might have been the waitress job. Working as a waitress would mean she would not have the prestige of working in an office, she would be on her feet all day dealing with the public–which can be difficult, and her income would be heavily dependent on tips. Obviously, if there was ever a choice to be made, we know which one she took; she chose to do what she loved.
This waitress was so memorable because she would anticipate your every need, call you by name, smile, and make you feel very good for coming to the restaurant. In fact, the waitress was so good that many people probably came to the restaurant just to see her. As it would happen, I had a relative who was a waitress at the same restaurant. I found out years later that the waitress had made three-times as much money working the same hours as my relative. Clearly the waitress absolutely loved her job, and that is precisely what made her so successful.
Not everyone respected the waitress, though. In fact, I remember some people actually made fun of her. I wondered if she would have been as good at an office job, only because she had such passion for her job as a waitress. Some may believe that working in an office would be a better career than serving dishes at a diner. But who cares what other people think? You need to do what you love and be happy in your career, no matter what it is.
Find what it is that excited your interest and grab it by the horns. Don’t be influenced by other people’s opinions or by society’s stigmas. Be passionate about your job and your career. If you do this and nothing more, you will have more success than you can imagine.
Success in every part of your career and life depends on your mindset; a positive mindset lays the ground for achievement, while a negative mindset makes for an unhappy work environment and ultimately failure. Find work that you love and practice it with passion, and you will attract people and create more value in the world. Find what it is that makes you passionate in life, and commit to it. Passion is the most fundamental part of success, and you must exercise it even if you do nothing else.
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Tagged: career advice, career blog | a harrison barnes, employment career, enjoy work, job search, job search guru, law job, law school, legal job, legal recruiters, look for a job, office job, practicing law, recruiter, recruiting job, waitress job