In the now famous Steve Jobs commencement address, he offered advice that you have surely heard before:
“You've got to find what you love…. 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.”
All worthy leaders, all great managers, all exceptional employees are doing it for the love. Love drives us. We are energized when we know what we are about and we can focus on what we love – it’s our mission, our purpose, our “gift” to the world. When the going gets tough, it’s the love of our craft, that exercising of our gift, our vision perhaps, that keeps us engaged.
This is why cyberspace superblogger Seth Godin writes continually about art – it’s his shorthand, his code word for “doing what you love,” what you would do even if you weren’t getting paid.
While he was alive, Dutch “post-impressionist” Vincent Van Gough painted over two thousand paintings, including 37 self-portraits from 1886 to 1889 alone.
He could not help it – he had to paint - and yet he did not sell one painting while he was alive. He did not stop; he could not stop as long as he was living.
This is a key to finding out what you love to do – not simply shrug and say “sure I like my work, I like most anything… I’m just a versatile person,” or “I make the best of the situation”
No… the question really is “what can you not stop doing if you are going to be truly you?”
If the “REAL YOU” was going to burst out of your skin like the green hulk, what would the “REAL YOU” be doing – even if you were never going to sell one part of it, never going to make a living from it?
Scott Belsky, author of “Making Ideas Happen” quotes artist Jonathon Harris on one more aspect of acting on our passion.
“Love is the only thing that’s going to pull you through and get you to finish… but here is also a paradoxical and interesting fact: The thing you actually end up making is going to be such a failure compared to the original feeling that you had, the original vision you had. The feeling of it is so pure that you can’t make a real thing that has the same feeling and so you’re inevitably going to be disappointed by it.”
Harris says it’s love that ensures some level of disappointment at the end. And for a time, for the unaware, that may be true. But we can mature, and cope with our feelings of love and imperfection.
After his death from self inflicted gunshot wound, Van Gough’s art was recognized as a national treasure, impacted thousands of artists, and millions of art fans. Self-portrait Without Beard, sold for $71.5 million in 1998 in New York making it one of the most expensive paintings of all time.
It was painted in late September 1889, as a simple gift for his mother, on her birthday.
He did it for love.