I took some time out from client calling and proposal making to reflect on the brilliant and inspiring people I’ve met so far – in particular, the CEO personalities I’ve interviewed for my book – INSPIRIT – How Asian CEOs Inspire Action From The Stage.
It would not be an understatement to say that they all of them had an almost unshakeable sense of purpose and overflowing zest for life. Whether it was FLY Entertainment’s Irene Ang’s sharing of how she has always been inspired to use her life as a “tool” to give her audience strength from the stage to LinkedIn’s Hari Krishnan who shared with me how he gets inspired almost on a daily basis when he sees his staff wanting to learn, do more and grow with the vision of the company to Bain & Co.’s Satish Shankar belief in the immense value of his firm’s consulting work in growing his clients’ organizations… all of the 10 leaders seemed to be teaching a 20-something like myself, what it means to love what you do.
With my limited life experiences, I think we young people seem to grow up with grandiose ideas about love. Whether in the context of romance or in the work that consumes us, we romanticize the notion of love – that it is always all “flow” and effortless. That we admire the corner office, glorious executive titles and multi-million/billion dollar exits but don’t seem to take interest or seek knowledge of the similar eventful journey it took for them to get there.
If there was one poignant lesson these leaders taught me, it is that for you to love what you do is… immensely difficult and painful. It would be fraught with moments of self-doubt, helplessness and loneliness. But you’d still pick yourself up, wipe the fatigue and unease off your face and SHOW UP. Because in those situations where it seems all bleak, they know they could very well be the sole source of light, hope and inspiration.
In the professional speaking world, it has been said that it takes 5 years to be an overnight success. Yet, I would still beat myself up when I’ve had a lacklustre performance and every so often, be unrealistic and take to instant gratification instead of progressive mastery.
To love what you do means choosing the right battle and fighting the good fight every day. It means taking difficult decisions when you’ve a convenient choice of distraction and exit. It means to learn how to enjoy those tough and “nail biting” moments and believe when belief is absent.
Today, I remind myself what it means to love what I do for I have been reminded of why I do what I do.
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