Several years ago I worked on a project where I collaborated closely with the Human Resources staff on a large internal re-organization project. There was one senior director I worked with a frequently, and we’d usually talk a little bit before and after our team meetings. I noticed he seemed grumpy more frequently than not, and one day I finally asked him about his grumpiness. I forget how exactly I broached the subject but I basically confronted him about “What’s up with the attitude?”
His response truly shocked me.
He wasn’t mean to me, but he was very direct and said, “How come you get to do all the fun work?”
I paused and responded by saying, “Well why shouldn’t I do work I like? I’m passionate about it and I’m pretty good at it.”
He just stared at me and said, “Well it’s not fair. It’s not fair that you get to do the fun work. Why should you get to do the fun work? The rest of us have to do all the crap work.”
I was pretty stunned by this, and I think I just stammered something to the effect that “I think everyone should focus on doing the work they are best at and truly enjoy.”
But I walked away from that interaction realizing (a) this 50+ year old man was profoundly unhappy about his work and (b) he truly resented me for doing fun work.
Now I am not someone who cherry picks my work – I do a certain amount of ‘crap’ work that comes with the territory. I’m not so naïve as to think that all work is all fun all day. I carry my fair share of crap work alongside everyone else.
But I’m not going to organize my entire professional life around crap work. I’m not going to let myself be miserable all day every day.
I am going to organize my professional life around work that I think is fun, and work that aligns with my talents.
I firmly believe that I can best contribute to the growth of other people when I use my talents to do great work, important work, and fun work. There’s just no point in spending all day doing work that makes me miserable.
But it’s important to caveat this advice with a caution. When you focus on doing the fun work you are truly great at, you need to realize other people might resent you.
They might resent your passion and your freedom. And they just might resent your happiness.
This should be a warning sign to you. A warning sign you are surrounding yourself with the wrong people. If people resent your happiness, then they are out of alignment with their own self. If they resent your happiness, they are unable of supporting your growth or the growth of anyone else.
Grumpy people are like kryptonite. And if you want to be Superman, you need to stay very far away from the kryptonite.
Please be advised, only happy people can support the happiness of other people. Grumpy people want everyone else around them to be grumpy.
Don’t be grumpy and don’t hang around grumpy.
Life is just too short and you are far too good to get dragged down.