So, Valentine’s Day is around the corner. People typically fit into two camps – the a) ‘I can’t stand the tacky commercialisation’ gang (while secretly hoping that someone else is romantic enough to do something for me), and b) the out and out softies who seize any opportunity to be ‘romantic’ on the one day of the year that society deems it publicly allowed.
But what’s this got to do with work? Since when do the words ‘love’ and ‘romance’ fit side by side with the concept of ‘work’?
Let’s take the story of Valentine as a starting point (I’ll keep this brief – promise!). During the Roman Empire, Emperor Claudius concluded that young unmarried men made better soldiers, and thus banned marriage for men under a certain age. Valentine was a priest who found this grossly unfair and continued to marry couples in secret – until he was caught and imprisoned. He then fell in love with a guard’s daughter and on the day of his death sentence wrote her a beautiful love poem, signed ‘your Valentine’.
Valentine was doing his work. Not just his work as a calling from God, as a priest… he was doing what he ‘knew’ inside to be the right thing to do. He demonstrated courage. He provided a service to others. He gave people hope and an alternative to ‘the way things were’. He surrendered his own life at the altar of his ideals.
There is a connection between love and work. Most people are brought up with the idea that work is merely a vehicle through which we earn a living to pay the bills and enjoy our lives – outside of work. Any idea of ‘service’ is usually thought of in terms of helping out a charity, voluntary activity or ‘sacrificing’ income by working for a non-profit.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Connect with what’s important to you, your values, your passions and how you can help others in the process. Then being ‘in work’ and ‘in service’ become synonymous. No matter what your work is, expressing your true nature, your generosity and your kindness is possible. This is the power of love at work.
So, regardless of whether you’ve bought a Valentine’s card or going out for a candlelit dinner, consider how to express the power of love in your work – it’ll be far more satisfying in the long-term than a one-off nod to romance.
And as a final ‘food for thought’, and in keeping with a ‘Saint’s’ day, these are a few words from Mother Teresa:
Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil.
What are these drops of oil in our lamps?
They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent.
Of looking, of speaking, and of acting.
These are the true drops of love.