Purposeful and Passionate Work

Patrick Rhone has recently been getting deeper into talking about work. Not work/life balance or doing better work, but he proposes that we look at everything we do as ‘work’ like they do at his daughter’s preschool:

In a Montessori environment, any purposeful activity is described as work. For instance, cutting up bananas to have as a snack is referred to as “banana work” or learning math skills by counting beads is referred to as “bead work”.

If you think seriously about living your life deliberately by aligning what you do and who you are1, this idea of anything we do is work makes a lot of sense. Why is it that we work hard to impress people at work but then decide we can be an asshole to the person in front of us at the line in the grocery store? Is it because we think our work has more weight in what we believe will make us a success? What if we work towards treating the people outside of work as if they were the ones who would be doing our performance evaluations and giving us raises? Where we are should not change how passionately we do our life work.2

Finding work you love won’t necessarily make life easier if you end up passionately consumed:

Not everyone is cut out for it. It takes not only a passion for the work but plenty of sacrifice. It means there will be no paid vacations or retirement fund matching or group healthcare plan. It means years of saving and planning and struggling and scrapping. But you will know, in those tough years, if it is for you. Because those struggles will not deter you — they will fuel you. Because, that is all part of the work too.

Anything that has purpose is work but just calling everything by that name doesn’t change the fact that some things will be truly hard work. The hard work will trash your system. It’ll make sure everything that was running smooth won’t. It’ll keep you awake at night, sometimes in excitement, often in fear. But it’s the work you’ve set out to do and fighting is part of it. The decision to live a deliberate and driven life filled with good work will consume you. It’s not just working hard 9-5 anymore because your grocery work, your commute work, your talk work, your love work, and your life work, they require you to be present and working hard.

Are you ready to be passionately consumed?

  1. There’s a lot of Zen stuff in here about a life that is not dualistic, but, to be honest, I still haven’t figured out a way to bring up ideas taught in Zen Buddhism without sounding hokey.↩︎

  2. Life work not being equal or opposed to our life’s work.↩︎