Work is tough. It’s draining. It’s hard. No matter what you do…I’m sure there are days when it gets to you. Confucius wrote that if you “choose a job you love, you [will] never work a day in your life.” Ordinarily I wouldn’t be super comfortable openly disagreeing with one of history’s greatest philosophers, but on this point…I must. This quote is a mantra repeated so often - Told to so many hopeful college students as they prepare themselves for the world of work. Do what you love. Make a difference. Everything else will fall into place. I think this is a dangerous notion. The simple truth of the matter is that even if you love your work, you are going to have bad days. You are going to be frustrated. You are going to get annoyed by your boss. You are going to feel unappreciated or just plain…tired. I have watched so many colleagues and friends question their career choices or walk away from work…because it wasn’t what they expected. It wasn’t what Confucius wrote about.
This is why conferences are so important. Work is hard. And, even if you love what you do, from time to time you are going to feel a little uninspired. It happens to all of us. Maybe it’s the day-to-day tasks or a coworker you who drives you crazy. But, it happens…and it’s perfectly normal. Conferences and special events reintroduce us to our careers. They remind of what we love about our jobs. They inspire us to look at the big picture…at the possibilities. And, that is priceless…
With the economic downturn, a lot of employers have stopped paying for conference attendance or team building functions. They are viewed as an extra that just isn’t possible in hard times. After all, if you want your staff to learn a particular topic, you can probably find a class online. If you want them to have better moral, you can probably just buy a cake and let everyone leave early for the day…right? Well, sometimes those things work and far be it from me to knock online training (because I love it), but what you lose out on is the refreshing, energy-providing inspiration that can come from attending an event.
Through the years, I have watched thousands of people shuffle in and out of session rooms at conferences. Sometimes they were there to meet a specific continuing education requirement. Sometimes they wanted to stay up on the latest trends or technology. Regardless…they probably didn’t go for inspiration. But that is so often what they find…Because the opportunity to step back from your job and look at the big picture is powerful. Young people at the beginning of their careers are able to see and learn from individuals who have accomplished great things. Seasoned professionals who have fine tuned their skills and are accustomed to working in a niche area are able to get broad exposure to tangential areas. Those who have reached the heights of their careers and are at the eve of retirement can be inspired by new generations full of youth and energy.
So, if you are an employee feeling a bit underwhelmed by your current position, don’t assume that something is necessarily wrong. It happens to all of us. And for so many of us, a conference can be just the shot in the arm that you need to get back on track.