The Joy of Work

When you think of your work, what words come to mind? Fulfillment? Exhaustion? Stress? Challenge? Overwhelm? As you mentally tick a few words off, was joy one of them?

Does it seem feasible to put ‘joy’ and ‘work’ in the same sentence? I’m not suggesting, nor do I believe, that work is joy, joy, and nothing but joy— because things aren’t that simple. Yet, there is joy in my work. Just as a joy-filled life is not necessarily an easy life or one without sacrifices, it is precisely those sacrifices and ensuing achievements that ultimately deliver joy.

I’m Priscilla McKinney, CEO and founder of Little Bird Marketing, and a partner of The Art and Science of Joy’s Year of Joy initiative. I’m a firm believer in the importance of joy at work. My personality and lifestyle radiate joy. That doesn’t mean I’m always giddy or bubbly. I can be a tough boss and am serious about the quality of work that is associated with our brand. But because I often lead with joy and find a lot of fun in work, there are those who consider me simply lucky. I’ve heard the quick comeback, “Well, it’s just easier for you!” dozens of times. Ready for a shocker? That is absolutely not the case.

Joy isn’t easy.

While some may struggle more than others, the fact is we all have times when we struggle to experience joy. So, when it comes to joy, the real question is – how do we manage what’s in front of us and keep our joy? That’s never been easy, and it never will be, but we can all find interesting and maybe even surprising places to find and experience joy. But sometimes I think people are looking for joy in the wrong place. Or least, they fail to look for joy in some unsuspecting place. My thought for you today is to ask you to consider the joy that comes from getting a job done well. I find work to be a wellspring for joy. But finding it there consistently requires a mindset shift in how you see what you are struggling with currently as a part of the journey to joy. 

For me, I love the intricacies and details of marketing plans. I get joy from knowing my clients are getting sleep at night free as I take some of the heavy load off of their shoulders. I love the feeling when I know others deeply respect my work and trust me to do great work for their brand. That doesn’t mean I’m always smiling as I’m challenged to find new ideas, new ways to blog or polish campaigns for greater revenue generation, but I don’t think that there is enough written about the joy of work.

What is difficult about your job that ultimately brings you joy? 

How does feeling accomplished in your worklife feed into a deep sense of joy?

How do you bring joy to others when you show yourself to be dependable and indispensable? 

The Art and Science of Joy Co-Founders Debby Schlesinger-Hellman and Andrew Cannon discuss this with me on my podcast, Ponderings from the Perch. Companies need to work towards finding ways to enhance their employees’ experience to integrate joy into their work. Debby was very straightforward when she said that she doesn’t believe in this cultural phenomena we’ve collectively created and agreed upon called the ‘work-life balance.’ As Debby reminds us, it’s all just life! And it’s how we integrate joy into our lives that matters, and that means into our work too!

Finding joy as a team means that each person has to find ways to commit to working together. There is exponential joy in work when a team is working together and sharing the same values. Can you reflect on your core values at work to find new opportunities or joy?

At Little Bird Marketing, our Core Values are:

  1. CARE DEEPLY (aka give a shit)
    We care deeply about our own personal goals, work to help co-workers achieve theirs and spend our client’s money like it was our own.
  2. FINISH STRONG (aka get shit done)
    Anyone can start a project, but few people can finish with the same energy as it concludes. If something is worth starting, we’re going to finish strong!
  3. STAY GOLD (aka be the shit)
    We are a brand known as best in class and fun to work with, so we are best in show, best in meetings, send the best gifts, etc.
  4. BE TRUE (aka don’t talk shit)
    We are honest, data-driven and kind communicators and talk truth to each other, to our clients and out in the industry at large.

Holding to these core values sometimes means that the road is hard. We have to think of someone else before ourselves, for others it requires the discipline of putting yourself first. It means getting a difficult project over a finish line and not just “phoning it in” to get the checklist done when the task gets tedious or unsexy. It means getting dressed to impress and showing others we value their time by the importance we put on their audience. It means holding our tongue when we are frustrated and telling the truth even when it requires conflict. There is joy in maintaining what is most valuable to us all. Working together in this way – striving together for the same goals brings a lot of joy multiplied.

I love my “peeps” at Little Bird Marketing, but you can find your joy community anywhere you find yourself!

I’ll see you in the Year of Joy community, tossing around joy like it’s confetti and I’d love to hear how your work is bringing you joy.

Priscilla McKinney

CEO, Little Bird Marketing

Further reading