You’ve seen a sign spinner trying to drum up business, right? While driving down Main Street of Pocatello, ID, I saw a teenage boy twirling an advertising sign outside of a local eatery. He wore shorts, a loose-fitting shirt, a baseball cap, and earphones attached to some music.
I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m going to assume that “walking billboards” like this young man get paid an hourly, fixed rate for holding that sign. I’m guessing that he doesn’t get a bonus for how he holds that sign. But I have to say, watching this boy twirl and flip his sign was a thing of beauty, like watching a dancer or karate student going through their steps. He closed his eyes, swayed with the music, let that sign fly in the air, caught it over his back, spun around 180 degrees, and passed it between his legs before beginning another routine where the sign seemed to walk up his arm one step at a time.
He could have just held the sign; instead, he owned that sign.
Fair, Good, or Awesome? It’s a Matter of Passion!
The reason why I go to work each day is the same reason you go to work: our parents didn’t make us trust fund babies. We have to work to live. But how do we show up for work? That’s completely up to us.
You can show up for work, do what you’re asked to do, and go through the motions of checking items off a checklist. And then you can go home. You’ll get paid. People do this all of the time.
Or you can OWN YOUR SIGN. You can show up passionately at work. You can know that what you do makes a difference and that you personally make a difference. You can own your job and your role, twirling it like a sign so anyone who sees you in action gets a glimpse of your soul, your character, and your heart.
When you show up with passion, it transforms you. Your work becomes art, your coworkers become fellow-artists, and your tools become signs that everyone can read from afar. But you are no longer just advertising that your organization hires the best, most passionate people. You are also announcing that you care enough to show up with your best self, not just a checklist version of yourself.
Show up with your eyes. Stop for a moment. Look at people when they’re talking to you. Really see them. Hear them. Feel with them. Be in the moment with them.
Show up with your head. If your child were having surgery tomorrow, would you like the surgeon to be planning his next vacation while your child is on the table? Of course not. Even if you’re not a surgeon, makes sure you’re focused and clearheaded when you show up each day.
Show up with your hands. When I see trash on the floor in my house, I pick it up. It’s my house. I don’t want it to look like a dump. When you show up with your hands, you use them to make the place better, prettier, more inviting. It becomes your place, a place of pride. No task is too big. Or too little.
Show up with your heart. All work is sacred, because it is a reflection of the worker. Putting the checklist aside, ask yourself, “How would I perform this task if I were to put my heart into it?” Not only would you cover every item on your checklist, but you would exceed that list.
Show up with your smile. ISIL. Ebola. School shootings. The news offers no shortage of awful stories, items that can fill us with dread and anxiety. You can’t change the world with a smile, but you can change your face with one. Your smile transforms those who see you, too. And don’t we all need a little transformation, something to pull us out of the darker parts of reality into a happier place?
That boy who twirled the sign? In a perfect world, he would make more money because of how he performed his job. But the world isn’t perfect. But maybe he did get a little extra for his passion. From his face, I know that that boy had more fun—and he created more excitement for those around him—by showing up passionately than he would have had he just held the sign while pacing up and down the sidewalk.
You might not make additional money by showing up each day with passion, but your days will take on a new level of value for you and for those around you.