If you are not happy doing what you are doing, soon enough you won’t be successful either

I remember when I was a summer associate at a big Washington law firm.  I walked into the law library.  One of the partners was reading a journal of recent legal decisions.  He wasn’t merely reading the headlines.  He was actually reading the entire 50 plus pages of dense court decisions.  As he sat in a large reading chair as if he were reading a great novel, the partner I was standing next to noted: “Alex does this every month when new decisions come out in the legal journal.”   That was why Alex was successful.

I also recall “Eileen”, a paralegal at the same firm.  While she never overtly was disrespectful, she looked either bored or unhappy.  When given assignments, she politely accepted the work but gave off the energy of someone getting another 50 pound weight added on their cart.   She was let by the end of the summer.

If you don’t like your career path, soon enough you won’t be that good at your work.

Consider what happens when people start on a career path.  At least in terms knowledge, they all are more or less on equal footing.

While in real life, this is simplistic, we’ll divide these new career starters into two groups (1) those who like and (2) those who don’t like their work.  We’ll also make it so that the native talent of each group is the same.

Those that like their career will think about how to improve their work during off hours.  They will read about the field.   They will come in on time or earlier and leave a bit later.  They won’t mind putting in time on the weekends or other off hours. While at work, they will be engaged and thus learning at a fast pace.  Management will pick up their positive body language, energy, and attitude. That will help them move upward.

Those that don’t like their career will do none of those things.  After work, they won’t think about work except due to anxiety. If they come in early, stay late or work on weekends, it will stem either from a boss’s order or simply out of worry about keeping their job.  They will be bored at work and thus learning at a slow pace. Management will pick up those negative body language cues, the looks of disinterest, and those grumbles about working late. 

You have to leave work you don’t like, not only because you are unhappy, but because soon enough you will also not be good at what you do.