6 Steps To Loving The Job You Hate

Many readers write to me and disclose, “I hate my job.”

You’ve gone from skipping to work, to dragging your butt. Little annoyances mushroom in the dung of frustration. Reasons vary: a witchy boss, unrealistic expectations, downsizing pressures, stagnating gifts, unrecognized contributions.

You’ve considered quitting, but that’s a bold move and another post.

I’ve made a career out of re-engineering my own jobs. There’s joy-packed potential all around you. Energizing possibilities abound. Grab the happiness that lurks in your day job.

Reinvent before quitting.

6 Steps to Loving the Job You Hate

  1. Name your frustration – Write down what’s really ticking you off. The big and the small stuff. Use as much paper as needed, and get it all out. Then step away.
  2. Pick the biggies – Find a big red pen and cross off the annoyances. Every job has crap like that.  Shake those off.  Determine the one or two game-changers. Focus your energy on addressing those concerns. You know what must be done. Listen to your heart. If you weren’t scared, where would you start? Talk to a mentor or coach, and make a plan. You are powerful. Use your power to change your scenery.
  3. Collect joy – Remember what you love. Negative feelings overshadow joy. Notice what makes you truly happy at work. Certain tasks? Interactions? Challenges? Write those down too.
  4. Forget humility – Write down your best talents. Not just the “work appropriate” ones. One of my leaders has an amazing rock band. I love to sing. You’d be surprised how many opportunities you can find to sing “at work.” Sure, in the long-run, confident humility is vital. But you’ve got to acknowledge you gifts to have the courage to use them.
  5. Create the job you want – Bring your passion to your job. My deep desire is growing leaders. My job description says I’ve been in sales, marketing, customer service, outsourcing… Not one of these job descriptions says “design and deliver unique leadership development programs for your team.” Or, “mentor anyone that asks for help.” Or, “spend your weekends writing an International blog to let your team in your head.” By investing deeply in those aspects of the job, I get through yawner finance meetings just fine.
  6. Look for special projects – Before our leadership summit, a frontline leader asked if he could take a few pics and video throughout the 2 day meeting. Yesterday, my entire organization received a fully professional video that lit us all up. It was an amazing investment of personal time and energy. He took it upon himself to leverage his gifts to bring more joy beyond his role. Skipping to work, turns heads.

How have you found more joy in your work? How could you?

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Shared Leadership: When Cups Runneth Over

Each family arrived with their burdens and joy. The room filled with cancer, divorce, under-employment, stagnated careers, struggling children, successes, start-ups, deepening relationships, home improvements, recovering health, big accomplishments, and new beginnings. We spoke of none of that.

Technically it was a rehearsal dinner, we were eating pizza and rehearsing, although covertly, while the next day’s bride and groom were hanging elsewhere.

And so this Labor Day, I take a temporary diversion from our normal fare, and offer a story of successful shared leadership and joy, family style.

Shared Leadership: Family Style

Clear Vision

We were 2 dozen extended family members with a singular focus inspired by my cousin’s vision. We were working to master the “cup song,” cups in coordinated symphony to Adele’s Love song-– a stealth mission to “hijack” my cousin’s first dance halfway through.

Work Environment

kathy.pgMy cousin, Kathy, served as instigator and chief organizer. My aunt served as gatherer, and my uncle grilled pizza. The teenagers came well-rehearsed and served as teachers for the oldest and youngest among us. The project would culminate at a fancy downtown venue, we would not be banging cups in a barn. Stakes were high.

Shared Leadership

We had no project plan, but roles emerged. Each was encouraged to use their gifts. The crowd murmered. “Jared and Bethany, can you please slow it down and teach the grown-ups?,” Kathy, an elementary school teacher sensed the frustration of the little guys and snuggled up behind them to give them an easier role.

When I arrived, I was handed music I had never heard, and told I would be singing a capella, no mic. I quickly looked at my youngest cousin, Eric, “did you bring your guitar?” Shoot, okay, I have a dusty one in the basement. Can you come to our house to spend the night? Laura, an exec, realized we clearly were going to need a second rehearsal for this mushrooming project, and called the wedding venue for time and space before the event.


shared leadershipWe were creating music with one rehearsal for a crowd filled with professional musicians (the bride and groom are accomplished folk singers). We approached the project as a gift. Quality was important for sure, but we felt safe to go big. We knew our offering would be received in the spirit it was given. We could have easily talked ourselves out of this.


Suddenly we had text distribution lists to organize “emergency’ trips to the music store etc. We had a sleep over and breakfast with dozens of eggs. Those side trips were filled with wonderful time to catch-up on the rest of our lives. Somehow the bigger issues that hung heavy on our hearts were easier to share in this cup-induced cadence.


The bride squealed with delight. The groom thanked us sincerely. We have grown as a “team” and a family. We’re ready for the next engagement.

Do you have a favorite shared leadership memory? How can we bring more such shared leadership joy to our lives?