August 14, 2006. This story begins in a stately building on the corner of 18th and Massachusetts in Dupont Circle. On this particular humid day, typical of a Washington August, a young twenty-three year old woman walked into her first day at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. While the specifics of her emotions are lost to time, they are likely tinged with a combination of relief (she has a job!) and excitement (she has a job in her field!).
That was then. This is now.
I have always been a big believer in loving what you do. Every day we get out of bed and head to a workplace to spend a third of our weekly waking hours as means to support ourselves. In these hours we have a choice – to let our work become rote, a black hole of time filled with disengagement, or to find work that stimulates our mind, bringing passion and joy along for the ride. It is a luxury, perhaps, but something that I feel is essential.
Ten years ago (yesterday), when I walked into my new job at the National Trust, I didn’t expect to fall in love, but I did know that I was starting a journey with a group of people that seemed in sync with how I saw history interacting out in the world.
So I’ll just say it. I love my job.
It is a job where I have been challenged and cared for. It is a job where we have made it through earthquakes, moves, garage collapses (which included an impromptu colleague movie day), new strategic plans and websites, lots of writing, plus an epic message from Mo Rocca, sent to me by a colleague during a CBS Sunday Morning shoot because she knew how much I like him.
It’s a job where I’ve made friends for life and have lost some along the way.
Here I’ve learned a lot about being a strong woman in the workplace. I’ve been blessed to have supervisors* that all took the time to support me, allowing me to grow in skill and confidence. And since I still work with four of them in some capacity, it is something they still do.
And then there is the work itself. The daily grind isn’t really all that interesting, something that has changed significantly since I first started. But it is a job that allows me to be my very best – seeing how the public interacts with the past and finding new ways in the burgeoning digital world to foster that relationship.
I am always learning.
Lest this sounds like a completely gushy love letter I will say that it isn’t perfect, no job is. However, it is one that gives far more than it takes. The positives have always outweighed the negatives.
And here is the most important reason I love this job.
Every single day I walk in the door and am surrounded by colleagues that inspire and make me laugh. Colleagues who energize. Colleagues who live rich lives that I always want to hear about. Colleagues who can talk historic preservation in one breath while also feeding our mutual love of writing, books, pop culture, tennis, food (and much more) in another. There has never been a day where I dread coming to the office and it is by and large because of these people in this place.
A colleague of mine (JJ) recently shared a Harvard Business Review article that asked “Can you really power an organization with love?”
Our strongest message to you as a reader is that love is neither alien nor misplaced in our organizations. If you consider love to be a worthwhile pursuit in any aspect of your life then you have the opportunity to express love throughout your life, including at work. As a leader, as a colleague, as a provider of goods and services, commit to expressing love at work. In so doing, you will be aligning yourself to a philosophy that lies at the heart of all the teachings of a well-lived life.
That’s a longer answer than is really necessary.
Can you really power an organization with love? Of course you can.
*Hey AH. Thanks for hiring me. Really.