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Love what you do (quotes)

From Love what you do, as a call to welcome less interesting parts of your pursuit:

Try to embrace all aspects of your current job and do it the best you can. Fall in love with it, not because it’s a good mantra, but because it’ll make your work outstanding.

In the two and a half years since that post, I have found some more examples of the same idea.

The first one is from Flow, a book by a psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi where he summarizes his research of optimal experience:

Another one of our respondents, a worker named Rico Medellin, gets this feeling quite often on his job. He works in the same factory as Julio, a little further up on the assembly line. The task he has to perform on each unit that passes in front of his station should take forty-three seconds to perform—the same exact operation almost six hundred times in a working day.

Most people would grow tired of such work very soon. But Rico has been at this job for over five years, and he still enjoys it. The reason is that he approaches his task in the same way an Olympic athlete approaches his event: How can I beat my record? Like the runner who trains for years to shave a few seconds off his best performance on the track, Rico has trained himself to better his time on the assembly line. With the painstaking care of a surgeon, he has worked out a private routine for how use his tools, how to do his moves. After five years, his best average for a day has been twenty-eight seconds per unit.

In part he tries to improve his performance to earn a bonus and the respect of his supervisors. But most often he does not even let on to others that he is ahead and lets his success pass unnoticed. It is enough to know that he can do it, because when he is working at top performance the experience is so enthralling that it is almost painful for him to slow down.

From Payoff, a book by a researcher in behavioral economics Dan Ariely:

From time to time, we find ourselves bored and unmotivated at work or at home. Like Sisyphus, we end up doing the same humdrum, unrewarding thing over and over. What can we do to change the situation when it is impossible to change the circumstances? The answer: change your mental framing.

For example, a young man I know recently took a job at a hospital, disposing of waste and cleaning surgical equipment. After a few months on the job, he found it so boring that he considered quitting. But his mother reminded him that he had one of the most important jobs in the hospital because people in hospitals are especially vulnerable to killer germs like staph. Without his important work, she explained, these patients could easily become sicker and die. This shift in perspective renewed his pride in his job. He performed it with more energy, and not too long afterward he received a promotion.

From a Huffington Post interview with Andrew Ng, a co-founder of Coursera and a machine learning researcher:

Q: Is there anything about your education or your early career that you would have done differently? Any lessons you’ve learned that people could benefit from?

A: I wish we as a society gave better career advice to young adults. I think that “follow your passion” is not good career advice. It’s actually one of the most terrible pieces of career advice we give people.

If you are passionate about driving your car, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should aspire to be a race car driver. In real life, “follow your passion” actually gets amended to, “Follow your passion of all the things that happen to be a major at the university you’re attending.”

But often, you first become good at something, and then you become passionate about it. And I think most people can become good at almost anything.

Previous blog post:
Year in review 2016

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