“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.” ~Steve Jobs
Are you doing what you love? Do you get up in the morning excited about what the day holds? When you think about it, most of your weekday revolves around work. If you don't love your work, you wake up in the morning with a mild feeling of dread. You spend about an hour getting ready to go to work. Maybe you get to spend a few minutes talking to your spouse about who needs to do what that day, and maybe you spent a few more minutes saying "Hi" and "Bye" to your kids.In those minutes, they don't get you at your best because your mind is already filled with that building dread. Then you spend the next minutes driving to work wishing things were different, but not seeing how they could be. Your staff mumbles a greeting that matches yours when you arrive. Your morning huddle is merely a lukewarm formality. For the next 8 or 9 hours you do your job. Finally,you get in the car and drive home. You may spend that time fuming over the aggravations of the day, feeling exhausted, working yourself into a grim mood and now dreading having to deal with the kids and listening to your spouses demands and complaints. It feels endless and tomorrow you'll get up and do it all over again. Are you still with me? I hope so, because here comes the good part.
Now, if you love your job, you get up in the morning with a feeling of anticipation. Yes, you still spend the next hour getting ready for work, but you feel energized and upbeat. You still share the demands of the day with your spouse, but you revel in the feeling of being a team and getting it all done. The kids come down and you all talk about the day that lies ahead of you and promise to share the details of how the day unfolded when you get back together for dinner. You get in the car and start thinking about the patients you'll see that day, and get a few ideas for ways to improve patient service, or team unity. Your happy staff greets you when you arrive and your morning huddle is a positive and productive start to the day. The day seems to fly by. As you work, you hear staff and patients laughing. You are gratified to listen as team members share their knowledge with your patients and give them tips on improving their oral health. You realize, you are one of the lucky people who get to do what they love. At the end of the day you drive home feeling happy and fulfilled. When you get there, your kids rush out to give you hug, while your smiling spouse patiently waits for you to walk up to greet them with a smile and a kiss. Your life feels right and good. You do what you love, and you get to do it again tomorrow.
You may say, "Well obviously the person in the first example doesn't love what they do." It might not have always been true. That person may have started out loving what they did, but circumstances may have lead them away from doing what they loved in the way they loved to do it. A dentist may have found themselves with an uninspired staff, stuck in a multitude of low-yeilding PPO's, and facing unappreciative patients who regularly remind him that they are paying for his kid's college education.
Maybe a dental assistant loved what she did when she started, but found that many people saw her as "just a spit sucker who sat and watched the dentist work", and saw that there was a ceiling on what she would earn and how far she could go. She forgot that she knows she is so much more. She is a patient educator, a treatment plan presenter, an infection control expert, a comforter, a collaborator, a co-worker with the dentist, not just a helper.
A dental hygienist may be thought of as someone who picks the same crud out of people's teeth every six months or so. There is so much more to it than that. She may be the person who first alerts the dentist to the suspicious area that turns out to be oral cancer. Since she checks the patient every six months, she probably caught it early enough to make a life or death difference. She shares information with the dentist and staff that allows everyone to do their job better. She develops a relationship with her patients that helps cement their loyalty to the practice.
It's so easy to forget that we are doing what we love, but we have to guard against falling into cynicism and negativity. As the above examples demonstrate, attitude can lead to dissatisfaction and apathy. The mundane can invade and diminish the thrill of knowing you have found what you were made to do. It's on you. First, be sure that this is what you love to do. Next, get real with your staff. Find out if they are doing what they love. Then let them know it if you are having a hard time loving it these days and ask them how they feel about what you are doing together. Ask them to commit with you to making it something you all love again. If someone won't get on board, find someone else who will. Don't settle.