Today is Valentine’s Day—one of my favorite days of the year! Who doesn’t enjoy a holiday set aside for one simple purpose: to celebrate love. And although I (quite by accident) scheduled my annual girl’s trip right over the top of Valentine’s Day this year, I count myself lucky beyond measure to have so much love to celebrate in my life.
But is there a place for love at work? Besides the intensity and beauty of romantic love, the strong and primal love of our children, and the casual nature of loving something like a favorite painting or food, there is the profound nature of choosing to love others outside of our familial circles in a way that is both beneficial to them as well as to ourselves. We are presented with this opportunity every day in our professional lives.
What is love in a professional setting? Well, while it is not of a romantic nature, it definitely shares some characteristics. At its core, love is what we experience in any moment that we are with someone, anyone, without having or believing any judgments about that person, either good or bad—simply loving them as they are.
There are three components of loving someone in any setting, but certainly a professional one:
- Acceptance: When we allow someone to be exactly as they are, without any belief that they aren’t good enough, without any belief that they would be “better” if they were different, this is love. This is not to be confused with recognizing that someone is not in alignment with our vision, values, or standards. Nor does it mean that we accept poor performance, bad behavior, or low results. It simply means that we have separated the performance, behaviors, and results for the human being before us, and we accept the human being as perfect and worthy in their own right—certainly worthy of our acceptance, just as they are.
- Unconditional: Real love has no conditions. When we truly love someone, we can’t stop loving them based on anything they say or do (or don’t say or don’t do). If the giving of our love is conditional upon the other person acting or speaking exactly how we would like them to, then this love is completely conditional. Real love is given freely.
- Selfless: True love doesn’t want anything in return because there is nothing that it needs. We simply love for the sake of love. When we love someone, we don’t look for them to meet our needs, love us back, or do anything we require. Choosing to love is a completely selfless act and does not require reciprocity.
The next time you engage in a Courageous Leadership Conversation with one of your teammates, remind yourself about the nature of professional love. You can hold someone accountable and love them at the same time. You can coach someone to a higher level of performance as an employee and fully accept them just as they are as a human being. You can fire someone and love them through the entire process by offering them complete non-judgment and wishing only good things for them in their future.
Love is at the core of good leadership. It is not weak but strong. It is not passive but active. It is not optional for those who wish to treat others the way they, too, would like to be treated.
So today, please “Be Mine” and help me to bring and share love in the workplace as much as we can… because for all our questions, love it still the answer.
“Whatever you want, whatever you are after
Love is still the answer”
~ Jason Mraz