Challenge: Work To Solve Problems, Not Find Love
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This is often the mantra of off-the-shelf coaches who haven’t actually worked in an office. By the way, yet another touchstone for creating a mentorship platform where real women (and men) can connect to talk about real issues based on real experience in real time.
Read more: About Edittress (“editing stress”)
While the basic premise of this advice has good intentions, I think the problem is that most of us have no idea what we love. And even if we did, don’t we have the right to change our minds? What happens then? Plus minor details like food and rent can get in the way of a love like this.
So this week’s challenge upends this tip by turning it upside down:
“Solve problems and work everyday of your life.”
I know, I know – this sounds boring. And would definitely not be a charming quote on Instagram, even with a millennial pink background.
When did work get such a bad rep?
Here’s the thing. Just a perfunctory glance through the news illustrates how many problems exist in the world today. Problems that require work outnumber love, at least in the mediascape. Not that there’s no place for love. But like any old married couple will tell you, true love comes in time. And I imagine through great perseverance in times of suffering, pain, and betrayal.
Hopefully not. Of course.
That said, smart money is on hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. This means instead of betting on love at first sight, listen to what breaks your heart.
As I reflect on this journey of building a mentorship platform, I cannot say it was some spectacular dream from childhood (or adulthood). And frankly it wasn’t a passion. It was a frustration.
Why does traditional mentorship feel like an arranged marriage? First, you have to “be somebody” or “know somebody” for the privilege. There are matchmakers, programs, and self-proclaimed coaches that cost an arm and a leg. Then when it doesn’t work out…do you deign to DIY? Pay obscene conference fees just to be in some faceless mentor’s orbit? Worse, search endlessly on LinkedIn?
There had to be a better way. This platform is not perfect, but it’s a start.
Rather than guessing-and-checking work that you might love, try rattling off a handful of problems that enrage you. Some antiquated process at work? A broken system? No strategy?
Consider talking about these concerns openly with a few trusted confidantes who also feel the pain. Then brainstorm a new design or process that could alleviate a part or the whole issue.
“We can’t fix what we don’t talk about.”
– DeRay Mckesson
I believe the root of frustration is feeling like there’s nothing you can do about something. But remember there’s always something you can do – ranging from speaking a quiet truth to quitting a job that violates your values. And everything in between.
Potential actions you can take:
- Write a guest post online (submit your musings to us!)
- Track what’s wrong and how much it costs in a spreadsheet
- Start a monthly coffee club that meets to discuss the issue/theme
- Launch a community group to meet like-minded people outside the company
- Talk to a mentor who’s been there
Despite a fast rise in Corporate America, my mother still questioned why I didn’t study accounting…20 years after I graduated college. After I left my last job, she sighed, “Well, have you considered law school?”
I share this because family and friends may have the best intentions and while loving in their own way: they are not you. To care enough about a problem is to do something about it. So many people talk about mentorship, but few give practical advice on where to get some.
Trust me, I realize this endeavor could fail. The thought crosses my mind every morning. But as one of my fellow entrepreneurs reminds me, failure is data too.
The number one reason why startups fail is no market need. Even though I think mentorship is a problem, I have to find a market that thinks it’s a problem too. And so it goes for you too.
When you’ve embraced a problem and have a solution in the works – the next step is to get other people to care. Could be your boss, mentor, or curmudgeon co-worker.
Impart your collective concerns, pain, and rage before wowing them with a solution. The conversation also becomes a strategic reason to:
- Get noticed by the powers-that-be
- Collaborate with a new department
- Talk to an industry expert
Sounds pretty exciting, huh? Let’s crush on some problems together.
“Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”
-Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs”