Advice that seems to run counter to the conventional wisdom of work.
During a tour of India nearly seven years ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked a very important question about his recipe for success, which is worthy of re-exploring as we enter a new year.
An interviewer asked Cook what he believed to be three key points for personal success to pass on to young people in India. Cook’s response:
Do what you love, and put your whole heart into it, and then just have fun.
‘Do what you love’
In all its simplicity, those four words — “do what you love” — is advice that seems almost like an anomaly to the conventional wisdom of work as a means to an end: to make money to afford things, to pay bills, to put kids through college, and eventually retire comfortably.
Yet think about it. Does Cook’s advice ever run through your mind as you go through your daily work routine? Most of us take for granted our cushy paychecks, health benefits, and job security, even though we may dislike our jobs and our bosses, and wish we were doing something else–something we actually loved.
So much has been written about our need to work in jobs or careers that give us meaning and purpose–that gets us up in the morning. Your purpose is exactly what you can’t help but keep doing. Even if there are low monetary rewards, you would probably do it anyway because of your love for it. When you discover what this is for you, it’s the thing that makes you come alive.
Tim Cook understands this deep down. “My advice to all of you is, don’t work for money — it will wear out fast, or you’ll never make enough and you will never be happy, one or the other,” Cook once told students at The University of Glasgow.
While money is certainly important, what he meant was that we choose work and a career that aligns with our sense of purpose and mission in life. Money, then, serves a greater cause: to make the world a better place.
Cook added, “You have to find the intersection of doing something you’re passionate about and at the same time something that is in the service of other people. I would argue that, if you don’t find that intersection, you’re not going to be very happy in life.”
Putting emphasis on the mission as your life’s work is what will make you love the work that you do, rather than merely loving to work. “There’s a big difference between whether you fall in love with some work that is just for profits or revenues versus work that is in the service of others. And so I feel very strongly about that,” Cook shared with the students.
Don’t forget to have fun
Finally, Cook’s advice includes the often-neglected playful part of work. I would argue that there’s a lot of value in not taking yourself too seriously and having fun; it can make your team more productive and encourage everyone to become fully invested in the job at hand.
Besides, we’ve been living in uncertain times since 2020. Having ‘fun’ in times like these means creating opportunities to get to know your teammates and customers on a deeper level, connecting with others in a spirit of community, and generating lasting friendships in support of one another. In the end, this proves to be a very good business strategy.