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Mind Your Business: Love What You Do

Mind Your Business: Love What You Do Credit: Photo Credit: Karl Tate

A year ago, I wrote a column called "The Great Myth of Work-Life Balance." It proved to be the most controversial and best read column I've ever written. In the column, I said there was no such thing as real work-life balance and suggested that those who were looking for it were destined for disappointment.

In it I said, "Work isn’t the thing you do to finance your real life. For most people, for most of history, work is your life."

And, though I received emails calling me everything from a pessimist to a Nazi, I still think there's some truth to that sentiment. Those of us who spend our work hours waiting for the day to be over so our real lives can start are wasting an awful lot of time being unhappy.

The problem is that we're hung up on what we do, rather than how we do and who we do it with.

We interview a lot of successful entrepreneurs and without fail, they all offer the same advice to others hoping to start their own small businesses: Do what you love.

"Follow you passion and your success will follow," they say. "Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it," is another common bit of wisdom.

I wonder if the millions of would-be entrepreneurs who have started businesses, but failed to make a go of it would say the same thing. Do they, too, believe you should do what you love, even if it doesn't have a whole lot of money making potential. Or would they suggest it would be wiser to build a good team and find a business model that works, rather than focus on the kind of business you're in?

Perhaps there's a variation on that wisdom that might be more useful for both entrepreneurs and job seekers. Rather than do what you love, why not do something you can tolerate with people you like? That way, no matter what the task at hand, you're always working with a team you appreciate and enjoy.

Maybe we're all going about looking for a job or hiring employees the wrong way. Rather than look for people who have a specific set of skills, maybe we should be looking for people we like…people we want to work with.

That may well go against conventional wisdom about hiring, but I think most staffing conventions have already gone by the wayside. Indeed, an author named Mark Murphy says in his recent book that companies should be "Hiring for Attitude," (McGraw-Hill, 2011), rather than based on experience.

Murphy told BusinessNewsDaily earlier this year, that he had tracked 20,000 new hires. Forty-six percent of them failed within 18 months, and 89 percent of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and not skills. 

"It’s not that skills aren’t important," he said. "But when the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure is dependent on attitude, then attitude is clearly what we need to be hiring for."

It goes both ways. If you're interviewing for a job, you should also consider the attitude and personality of your potential new co-workers and managers as much as you consider the work itself.    

That might be the closest any of us will get to finding a state of work-life balance that meets our needs. Enjoying going to work and solving problems with people you like, makes the day go a whole lot faster.

Jeanette Mulvey has been the managing editor of BusinessNewsDaily since its debut in 2010. She has written about small business for more than 20 years and formerly owned her own e-commerce business. Her column, Mind Your Business, appears on Mondays only on BusinessNewsDaily. You can follow her on Twitter at @jeanettebnd or contact her via e-mail at jmulvey@techmedianetwork.com.

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.