February 14, 2022
There’s been no shortage of articles and talk of the great resignation and the collective shift in employee expectations for their work environment. As I’ve read the discussions and differing perspectives from many people online, I keep coming back to this question: should you love your job?
Now, if you ask me that question my answer would be yes. And going through the pandemic has only solidified that stance for me.
Let’s go back to 2020 and the relative beginning of the pandemic. I’d been working at a theatre in their marketing department—but with nothing to market for the foreseeable future, I was laid off. I knew there was a high possibility of this happening, but I had hoped it wouldn’t.
A few hours after getting this news, I met my former boss (who’d left the company a few months earlier) and a coworker who was being let go with me, and we consumed as many happy hour margaritas and tacos as happy hour allowed. After saying goodbye that night I was left thinking about three things.
One, it was only Monday. And waiting for Friday, my now last day at the company, felt like an eternity. Knowing my time at the company was coming to an end, there was no way I’d be getting anything done that week—aside from saving files for my website.
Two, I had enough money to pay my rent for a few months. But what would I do when those savings ran out?
And three, would I ever work in theatre again? That question might sound a tad dramatic.
But I really was unsure if I’d ever work in theatre again.
Our last Friday came, and my coworkers and I returned our computers and keys to the office. We packed up our desks. We took photos. We reminisced. We drank. We vented. And I told a coworker this fear of mine, and she said something I hope to never forget, “If you miss it, you can always come back.”
And we went our separate ways. (We’re still friends though. 😀)
What she said honestly helped me reframe my mindset about how to move forward. At the time, no theatre was hiring—they were going through the same layoffs that I just went through. With that option off the table, I unsuccessfully applied to marketing jobs that just never felt like the quite the right fit for my skills. I was almost at the end of my savings when I started applying for jobs at grocery stores, warehouses, and department stores.
I got hired as a forklift driver at a warehouse. I did not love that job. But it did solve my money problem. And it unexpectedly taught me quite a few lessons about what skills a good leader needs to have. (You can hear more about that on The First Cup of Joe Show in this week's new episode on Wednesday!)
It was a job that I could leave at the warehouse and think about while I wasn’t there. But I wasn’t excited to go to work. I wasn’t excited to spend my energy there (because after a shift I all wanted to do was go to bed). I didn’t love it and that wore me down as the months passed.
The best day at that job was my last day. And what I did next was even better—going back to theatre. And I love it.
So, what’s the leadership lesson should you learn from this story? We’re all motivated by different things: money, time, flexibility, perks, mission, etc. When you find someone who loves what they do, hold onto them, nurture them, help them grow. People who are passionate about their jobs are far more invested in their success and the company’s success than someone who’s just punching in and out.
. . .
Isaiah Custer is Level Up Courses’ director of marketing. He helps companies tell stories through email, content, and social media marketing to increase awareness, engagement, brand loyalty, and sales. Isaiah has held many leadership roles throughout his career and personal life starting when he held officer roles in his local 4-H club. His seven plus years of experience in marketing has proven to him that great leaders cultivate relationships and enhance the customer experience. He currently lives in Seattle, WA and has a degree in Theatre / Arts Administration from Northwestern College.