Love the work.

I love working. I love that feeling when you know you are contributing to building something greater than just you. Call it work ethic or elbow grease or being reliable — call it whatever you want — but doing the work is what makes me happy.

This wasn’t always the case. I was a terrible student because I didn’t want to do the work. I scraped by with marginal marks the entire time I was in school. I remember the exact moment where I realized effort did not equate to success at school. It was grade 5 math and my teacher said she was generous and gave me a 50 for the term. It was crushing and I explained that I had really made an effort that term and I had. She said that my effort is why she gave be a passing grade but it didn’t necessarily translate into good marks.

I really learned to work when I started my first company. There was no hiding from it then. The need to eat and live under a roof made for enough motivation to put the work in. As most entrepreneurs know, having to run a business and be the business takes an incredible amount of focus and dedication. As Springsteen says, “he don’t work and he don’t get paid.” That forces you to learn to work.

I levelled up again at my work game when I had twin boys. There is no escaping the amount of effort it takes to raise a child but two at the same time means you have to suck it up and get to work. Whatever I thought work was before kids, I was wrong and I needed to get more done in the same time. This is where you really have to love the work or it will beat you down. You need to balance the job of the job, the responsibility of the parent and the commitment to your spouse. An imbalance in any of those and the whole system is off.

There is a lot of wasted space in work. It is this wasted space that makes people hate the work. It can happen when you aren’t focused on doing the right things because of a lack of direction or instruction. It will happen if you don’t like what you are doing. It does happen if you don’t understand the game you are playing and how to win at it. All of these things zap your energy and work becomes work.

As an entrepreneur you can always find things that need to be done but you’ve got to love the grind or you will get tired quickly. As I moved up in my work life into more senior roles I realized that I missed the work. I love being a leader but I love being a leader that contributes by rolling up my sleeves and getting involved. It’s an example I want to set for my kids that despite a title and the prestige that comes with it, you have to work hard to make a meaningful contribution.

You have to love to work or the work eats you up.