People talk about business when they’re getting serious. “Let’s get down to business.” “It’s business time.” “She’s all business.” And that’s no surprise – we live in a culture that takes business very seriously. It’s easy to think that the two words are synonyms.
That leads to another common conflation of words – people tend to think that “work” is the opposite of “fun.” Again, that’s understandable – certainly most people find going to work to be an obstacle to the things they really enjoy – but it’s also unfortunate, because it doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact, some of the most successful businesses have already cracked this code. Take Southwest Airlines, for example. Southwest is routinely praised as one of the most enjoyable airlines to ride with, and it’s known for a quirky attitude and business strategy (the founder once proposed an arm wrestling match to settle a dispute with a competitor, rather than a lawsuit). The airline is also well regarded for the respectful way it treats its employees; the company is on great terms with the unions with which the airline deals, and makes a point of giving them plenty of freedom to make decisions on the ground (and have fun doing it). This strategy of mutual respect and genuine enjoyment is unorthodox, to be sure, but you can’t argue with results – Southwest has been consistently profitable since it was founded, and indeed is frequently one of the only airlines to stay out of the red.
But there’s more to it than profit. When your business is working for somebody else, it’s easy to get down on yourself and your job and lose sight of the fun – and it’s a rare workplace that treats fun as an integral part of the experience for both customers and employees, no matter who tells them how important it is. When you work for yourself, however, there’s no excuse not to enjoy it! It’s your business, after all – why else
go into your own business if not to add joy and freedom to your life? After all, that’s why most people want the money that comes from working or running a business – so they can achieve joy and freedom.
There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, or getting into business to earn some money, but never lose sight of the joy in life and in business. If I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t do it. And as Southwest has learned, your clients and customers will see the joy and the pride you take in your work, and they will respond. Conversely, if you hate your job, how effective can you really be?
If you’re working at something you love, then absolutely keep at it and never let it go. But if you’re just working for the freedom and opportunity that having money from a paycheck affords you, unchain yourself and cut out the middle man. It’s a new era, and there have never been better opportunities to find and develop your own personal, independent earnings – with all the freedom that entails.