We used to be able to do jobs we didn’t care about. In an industrial economy, you didn’t have to like what you did, you just had to have the discipline to keep doing it.
Today, because of how things have changed, liking what you do is no longer a luxury. That does not mean that you have to be in love with your job, or be completely passionate, or choose it over a beer with friends in the evening. What it does mean, however, is that you do have to care about it enough to keep doing it when things get uncertain.
The thing that has changed from forty years ago to now, the thing that makes it so important that we like what we do today, is the increased amount, speed and impact change has on our lives and businesses than it did before.
Forty years ago, you could plan on being in the same gig for more than twenty years, today, you’re lucky to get five. Forty years ago, a buy-out, merger or acquisition was a once in a lifetime experience, today it happens every other month.
If you don’t like what you do, your ability to keep motivated through the uncertainty that this economy creates on a daily basis will be limited at best, nonexistent at worst. Discipline is created, in part, when the brain believes that the outcome we are seeking is possible and, therefore, the input is worth the expenditure of energy.
If you like what you are doing, the outcome that creates the discipline is simply about getting better. When the outcome is questionable at best, the brain begins to wonder if it is worth the energy. We no longer have the certainty of the lifetime job, the pension, or the job security. No outcome, no motivation.
We used to be able to do jobs we didn’t care about. Now, if we are to stay motivated through the unknowns of change, we no longer have the luxury.