Love what you do and do what you love
In our boathouse at the City of Sheffield Rowing Club, someone has pinned up a quote from the American novelist Ray Bradbury, one that was more recently appropriated by Adidas in a publicity campaign; “Love what you do and do what you love.”
When I set out in my career I was eminently well qualified as a structural engineer and I took a job with Arup as a designer. But after a year or two the job was killing me. I just could not interact with a drawing board and a calculator for the rest of my natural life. Arup, for whom I worked, were great and tried me in every possible diameter of round hole, but I was a square peg and finally had to admit defeat; I handed in my notice and went off to study for an MBA at Sheffield University.
After that I worked as an academic for a year. That wasn’t great either. So I took a job as project engineer working for the contractor Mowlem on Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield. And more or less every working day since then has been a joy – much to the relief of my longsuffering wife, who in 1987 had just had our first child and was wondering when I was going to sort myself out.
I worked for Mowlem for 13 years and then Balfour Beatty for 16 before joining HRS. Contracting presents some interesting technical challenges, but first and foremost it’s about people, and that’s why I love it. And once you do something you love, you find yourself in the ‘flow’; you feel energised, involved and absorbed. In his book ‘Winning’, Jack Welsh says “Find a job you love and you’ll never work again.”
The same principle seems to apply to all realms of endeavour; Duke Ellington had two criteria for players in his band. Firstly musicians had to be technically capable – “Can you play the music?” – But more importantly they needed to love the jazz idiom – “Do you love the music?”
I realise I’ve OD’d on quotations in this piece. Perhaps that’s because it’s so important that a lot of people have written about it. Alternatively, it may be because doing what you love is something I have experienced (both ways) and feel passionate about, and have therefore read up on. At any rate, I hope that you have the skills to do your job at Stroma Tech HRS, but more than that, I hope that you love your contribution to what we do, whether that is performing arcane energy calculations, testing buildings on a busy site, inspecting a bridge in the middle of nowhere, keeping our stores in good order, or building relationships with clients as part of our sales team.