Perhaps one of the most frequently given bits of career advice is this: Do what you love and love what you do.

In an ideal world, we all want this to be our work life. However, in the real world, most people don’t get to do what they love, or they don’t always love what they do. The truth is: These goals are easier to verbalize than to achieve, because one must subsist in the process. It takes more than just luck to be able to realize both goals.

Do What You Love

Now, let’s look at what it means to “love what you do.”

In the workplace, it means showing passion and devotion to your work. The truth is: What you do may not turn out to be what you love. For example, picture yourself in the same job for years and nothing is new or exciting anymore. As a result, you are simply going through the same motions at work every day. Or, imagine you have been assigned to different tasks as part of your company’s rotation program, and some of the responsibilities you must assume are just not within your interest areas. As a consequence, you become resentful of what you do. In these scenarios, to love what you do requires a strong work ethic or high-level professionalism. It requires you to learn to appreciate your job and its potential contribution to a larger mission beyond your own. With this level of understanding of your job, you will, hopefully, be able to do your best for the benefit of your company.

What Can Be Done?

In either situation, both the employer and the employee have to make some conscious efforts.

For employers, especially those with limited capacity to meet employees’ wants, be creative in finding ways to engage your employees and cultivate their love for their jobs. Consider:

  • Offering individualized career plans. Show your employees a career path for tomorrow, not just a job for today. When employees see a bright future with your company, they are likely to show more commitment to work.
  • Designing strength-based assignments. When their individual strengths are recognized, employees will become more motivated and engaged to work harder and perform better.
  • Creating job-rotation opportunities. In this way, employees will have exposure to different business functions and gain practical experience in different areas. This will help them determine the best job fit for their interests and strengths. A side benefit for the employer: You will get to test your employees’ abilities in various contexts.

If you’re the employee,

  • Set realistic expectations. This is your first step. Be realistic about what you expect from your employer in relation to what you can offer in return. Remember: Your employer is not obligated to meet both your needs and wants. In fact, when your personal preferences conflict with the organizational needs, the latter usually comes first.
  • Craft your existing job. As a job holder, you are in full charge of your work activities. If your current job is not interesting or meaningful to you, take a proactive approach to craft it to your liking. Organizations value employees who take initiative, and this personal attribute is appreciated more than ever by employers who increasingly rely on their employees to drive change, innovation and growth.
  • Give before taking. Embrace the right work attitude and nurture a positive employment relationship. Remember: Businesses exist for a purpose and as an employee, you are expected to contribute toward fulfilling that purpose. So give your best to your company, and you will likely take away meaningful rewards in return.

As leaders of your organization, if you can create a culture and structure that will enable your employees to do what they love and/or love what they do, then you are on your way to building the most competitive advantage.

But, wait…there’s more!

If you liked the advice Jia shared in this blog post, then you’ll find lots more practical ideas and best practices in her #1 best seller, Optimizing Human Capital Development: A Distributor’s Guide to Building Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through Talent Strategy. If you manage people, this distribution-specific research study will benefit you.

George Pattee, Chairman of the Board at Parksite Inc., said:

“This is the best book I’ve ever read on human capital strategy, and it’s customized to the distribution industry! Love the process map and explanation as well as the specificity of the action plans. All people managers, the HR staff and senior executives need to read this book.”