I was talking with a woman who is in the midst of growing her speaking career, and is bootstrapping it with her current job.
She told me, “I worry because I’m pouring a lot of effort and money IN and not getting much money or results BACK OUT.”
I suggested she watch a commencement speech Neil Gaiman gave for Pennsylvania’s University Of The Arts.
This is one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen because Neil speaks honestly of his frustration with his career and how he ignored advice from Stephen King to “Enjoy the ride.”
He finally asked himself, “What can I control?” and had an epiphany. He couldn’t control many aspects of his career, all he could control was his commitment to MAKE GOOD ART.
How about you? Are you frustrated with your career? Are you not getting the recognition, results and revenue you want, need and deserve?
It’s worth having an honest conversation with a supervisor, trusted colleague or client to get their input on what you could do to receive the promotions, projects or contracts you want.
However, it’s equally important to start enjoying your work NOW instead of thinking you’ll enjoy it AFTER a certain amount of success.
When I ask clients their goals at the beginning of our work together, many say they want a bestselling book, to give a TED talk, or to build a multi-million dollar business.
I suggest that in addition to those external barometers of success, they establish some emotional barometers of success.
Some ask why that’s important and I tell them, “We can’t 100% control whether our book becomes a New York Times bestseller, whether we get asked to give a TED talk, or whether we become a CEO. If that is our measuring stick for success and it doesn’t happen, we may feel like a failure, like all our efforts were for naught.
What we can control is the positive difference we make and what a privilege it is to have the autonomy to do quality work that contributes. That ought to be our primary focus.
What’s wise is to measure our success by MEANING rather than by MONEY.
Meaning we can control, money we can’t.
I’ve curated my favorite 15 quotes about how we can create more meaningful work and “make good art” … regardless of our profession, industry or job.
Hope you’ll post these where they’re in-sight, in-mind. If for some reason you’re feeling discouraged, re-read them. They could be the right words at the right time to remind you to look around and appreciate what’s right with your work right here, right now.
1. “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.” – Vince Lombardi
2. Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.” Kristen Hannah
3. “To work hard at something you hate is called stress. To work at something you love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek
4. “To do what you love and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?” – Katharine Graham
5. “I’ve never seen a separation between work and play. It’s all living.” – Richard Branson
6. “It is a luxury to combine our passion with our contribution.” – Sheryl Sandberg
7. “I have the world’s best job. I get paid to hang out in my imagination all day.” – Stephen King
8. “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for . . . and to live inside that hope.” – Barbara Kingsolver
9. “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” – John Ruskin
10. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” — Steve Jobs
11. “Go on. Do your work. Do it well. It is all you can do.” —Ursula LeGuin
12. “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.”—Aristotle
13. “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt
14. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” —Pablo Picasso
15. “The standard of success in life isn’t the things, the money or the stuff. It is absolutely the amount of joy you feel.” – Esther Hicks
Remember, the question isn’t “How hard do I work? How many hours did I put in this week?” The question is “How much joy do I feel? Who did I positively impact this week?”
The good news is, you can control the amount of joy you feel. All you have to do is pour yourself into making good art and doing quality work that adds value for all involved.
When you do that, you will have the deep internal satisfaction of knowing you and your work matter … which is one of the key ingredients to true happiness and job satisfaction.
And you can do that today … not someday.
– – –
Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create a more meaningful life that adds value for all involved. Her books Tongue Fu! POP!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times, on NPR and taught to Boeing, Intel, ASAE, Cisco, Capital One, NASA, Nationwide. This is excerpted from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week.