Many of us, each day, are faced with the challenge of balancing work and life. We strive to do those things that feel the most meaningful to us, which bring us the greatest joy (or even contentment). And yet, underlying our daily process is the need to make money, or please the boss, or impress our peers, or other external motivations that have nothing to do with the work itself.
It’s as though we’re stating to the world (by the intention that underlies our actions) that we love the work we do, but …
The “but” is actually our true intention. It’s the difference between letting go completely to the joy of our work, or worrying and planning how we’re going to accomplish, achieve or progress.
The good news is that there is a very simple process for moving from a muddied intention of conflict between doing the work that brings us money or some external benefit, and doing the work we truly love. The process is to move into the energy of service.
The energy of service is a space in which we do our work whether we receive compensation for it or not. It means that in each moment, regardless of what we’re doing, our sole focus is on serving our customers, our employees, our suppliers, the environment, and our broader community.
Even if we’re engaged in the aspects of our work that is our least favorite, like for me generating invoices, bookkeeping, and filing. I’m still being in service in those instances as it supports my ability to do the work that matters the most to me. Even more subtly, the simplest of work can be service in the highest form when it’s done as service for the mere sake of service.
The energy of service is about “the energy” of it. It’s not an intellectual process. It’s not a rationalization for the work we do. It’s a feeling.
And this feeling becomes muddied and confused the moment we start thinking about what’s in it for us. “How much am I billing this client?” “What’s my salary for this job?” “How is this a stepping stone for me?” “How will this contribute to the bottom line?” “What will people think of this work?” And so on.
Not thinking about these things seems irresponsible—as we’ve been taught. And yet, not thinking about these things enables us to do our very best work, because we get to stop thinking about things that have no bearing on the work itself and just be fully in the moment with our work.
In fact, there is even research that shows that when we’re not focused on a reward for our work that we do far better work (see Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us).
The energy of service is a place we come from that feels like total trust in an unknown outcome. A friend recently shared with me in relation to his small business, that his “schedule is in the hands of higher power.” Regardless of whether you believe in a higher power or not, this place of approaching his work is one of total trust in the outcome, so that he can focus on doing the work for the sheer love of doing the work.
This is the place in which we are in the flow of the energy of service. It’s the place of showing up each day to do the work for the sake of serving, and trusting that the outcome will be what it needs to be, and that our needs will be taken care of.
Sound scary? It can be. And yet, this is the place where we find the deepest of fulfillment in our work and lives. It’s also the place where the real magic happens.