Love isn’t something most of us think about at work. We’re professionals after all.
But, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.
You see, love doesn’t have to be about romance. I actually believe the essence of love is much more profound than that. I also believe we can bring the spirit of love with us everywhere we go, including to the workplace—and when we do, I believe we have the power to change our experience of work. When we approach it with love, we feel more love for it, and we spread that love to others.
I know it sounds a little corny, but trust me: when you treat work as a labor of love, the focus becomes less about the labor and more about the love.
If you’re interested in bringing more love into your work, try these simple but powerful strategies.
Adopt a Service Mindset
When you look at your work as service—something that helps people, or your community, or the world as a whole—it fundamentally shifts your attitude. You might not think of your role as a service position, but almost any job can be viewed that way if you really think about. Try to expand your perspective and look at the big picture purpose of your work. Unless your job is to roll cigarettes and sell them to children, you’re probably contributing something positive to something greater than yourself. And that’s what service is all about.
Approach your work with a mindset of service and you’ll feel more purposeful, more connected, and more willing to do the hard stuff—because it’s not about you. It’s about something much bigger.
In the workplace, most people follow the old, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” motto. But where’s the love in that? Why not simply scratch the backs of others for no other purpose than to be helpful? Do favors without expectation of return and you may find that the pleasure of selflessly giving is reward enough.
It’s easy to forget that the workplace is full humans and humans are endlessly flawed. We hold one another to ridiculous, unrealistic standards at times—standards no human could ever live up to. Instead of allowing the people around you to drive you nuts, why not show compassion for them?
You never know what others are going through or what they’ve been through. Remember that they (like you) are 3-dimensional creatures. They have feelings, and fears, and complicated lives outside of work. Cut your colleagues some slack and try to find some empathy, even for the most difficult people.
Start with Trust
In the workplace, a lot of us have been burned in the past. As a result, we struggle to trust others. We believe trust has to be earned, and sometimes, we make it very difficult for that to happen.
Instead of creating a barrier for it, why not start with trust? Assume that everyone around you has good intentions—they all want to be successful and happy and work well together. They are all capable, mature professionals. They might have different approaches and different personalities, but at the end of the day, you’re all on the same team.
Focus on Gratitude
Finally, put your attention on everything that you’re grateful for. Many of us take work for granted. It’s just a job, it pays the bills, we’re just waiting for retirement…
Instead of watching the clock and wishing the hands would move faster, why not take a moment to really appreciate what you have? Instead of seeing that growing to-do list as a source of overwhelm, look at it as an exciting challenge you get to embark on. Look at it as job security—proof that you’re needed! Be grateful you have too much to do…because too little would be a worse problem to have.
But being grateful in your head and heart isn’t enough. As a friend of mine likes to say: “Gratitude is an action.”
If you appreciate something—if you really love it—that should show in how you treat it. Make your gratitude visible in the work you do and the interactions you have. Who knows? You may inspire others to do the same. In my experience, the act of gratitude is quite contagious.
So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to bring more love into your work. I hope these strategies have helped you think about this idea in a new and different way.