For Christmas, a dear friend gave me the book Becoming Better Grownups by Brad Montague. I read the 300-page book in just a few days. Don’t be too impressed with my reading speed, there are a lot of pictures in the book. Brad Montague is the creative force behind Kid President and was on a mission through this book to help us all be better adults. In the process, he uncovered many secrets to a happy life.
One of his insights is around our work and how we spend our days. So often we are focused on the labels, on the nouns of what we do. “I am a doctor.” “I work at this firm.” “I have this degree.” Those are all facts, and sometimes impressive facts. But we don’t live and enjoy facts. We live and enjoy verbs. Brad humbly shares his experience at the Jefferson Awards dinner in Washington, D.C. where by chance, he was seated next to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. He was terrified because her noun, Supreme Court Justice, was so much more impressive than his noun, YouTube video guy. But then she asked him, not what he did (noun), but “What do you love about what you do?” (verb).
That question changes the discussion, doesn’t it? She was not interested in someone’s resume. She wanted to know their passion, what makes them unique, what makes them get up in the morning. Ms. Sotomayor wanted to know their verb, their experience of life. The why of what they do.
Take a moment to think of how you would respond if I asked you right now what do you love about what you do? For me, I love to support people through difficult times, to help them see the inherent power they have, and I am honored and filled with hope and joy when I see someone transformed, to see someone take control of their life again – to love life again.
When asked why Ms. Sotomayor asks this question, because she did ask it of everyone she met that night, she responded that, “when you know what somebody loves, you know who they really are.” When we get past the labels and dig deeper into why someone does something, we get to know that person on the inside not just on the outside.
Inspirationally, Brad Montague reinvented how he saw himself and his work. He stopped thinking about how his work defined him and began working from a place of love. He stopped thinking about how he was viewed because of his title, and instead ensured that what he did inspired others. He is now in the business of love, created by love, given in love.
This refocus is also a tool of motivation. Not all work is fun and inspiring, but when I can remember that the TPS report I am doing, is going to help someone grow, I find I have the motivation to do some of the less glamorous parts of my job.
What do you love about what you do? What would it mean to you and your work to focus on the purpose of love and sharing love?