The Irresistible Ingredient


How can having a life and career marked by love make the work you do irresistible?

LOVE is a four-letter word in the business world. It makes us uncomfortable. It seems inappropriate or even taboo. It can also make you and your work irresistible.

Our lives and work are marked by love when we seek to give instead of receive, focus on how we do something rather than just doing it, see a task as a privilege rather than an obligation, make relationships a priority, and move beyond simple action to the accompanying emotions.

Adding the Irresistible Ingredient

There are those who love-whether it be what they do, who they do it with, who they do it for, or all three-and they "make love visible" in variety of ways.

For love to make any difference it needs to be demonstrated and not simply felt; it needs to be both attitude and action. To remember what can be done to infuse the irresistible ingredient into any type of work, I use the acronym "P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E-S." If you can understand the powerful upside of adding love to your work, here's a way to do it regardless of your job or title or lack thereof:


I don't think Mother Theresa woke up in the morning and mourned, "Oh Lord, not more lepers!" She did some of the hardest work on the planet, and she seemed to be far more fulfilled and content than we who sit comfortably in our air-conditioned offices. How could that be?

Love is choosing to accept someone-imperfections, weaknesses, demands, and all-no matter his or her circumstances or needs. We need to meet our coworkers and customers where they are, not where we want them to be. Patience requires us to set our own expectations aside without indulging in frustration or negativity.


According to Mary Kay Ash, founder of the eponymous multi-million dollar cosmetics company, "There are two things people want more than sex and money-recognition and praise."

Love is paying attention. We don't ignore that which we love, whether a person or an activity. Focus equals fondness.

Recognition motivated by love moves beyond the casual acknowledgment of existence; it does more than focus on what is. It focuses on what could be. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." Not surprisingly, the recognition of another's potential often starts him or her toward its achievement.

We have to recognize the specific needs and desires of those with whom we work and those whom we serve. Applying the irresistible ingredient requires us to move beyond small talk to the deeper issues in people's lives. It's far too easy to judge a coworker or customer by how he or she looks or acts rather than doing the hard work of understanding why. Challenging ourselves to really know people is unusual in our culture, but the relationships we build will measure our success in the long run.


Appreciation comes from looking for what's right rather than being hypersensitive to what's wrong. It is about choosing to focus on the positive even when you can't ignore the negative.

Too often we forget to stop and express our appreciation to the people who serve alongside us and the people who serve us. From the smallest gesture-a smile or a quick internet "prop"-to the largest bonus or award, people need to know that their work matters to us. Our customers and coworkers will respond positively every time we offer genuine appreciation . . . guaranteed.


Don't tell people what they want to hear. Tell them what they need to hear. Just make sure you tell them in a way that they will listen!

I recall being put off by a highly incentivized sales professional in an electronics store until he confided in me that the DVD player I was about to purchase was inexpensive but laden with problems. He would have made a commission had I bought the unit, and yet he demonstrated his concern for me by sharing that insight instead. His interest in helping me make a good buying decision instantly changed my attitude about him.

Love is offering wise and insightful advice that is in the best interest of the receiver rather than the giver. When asked, it is easy to criticize or suggest the first thought that comes to mind, no matter its validity. A thoughtful input or response shows that we value the individual and care about his or her need.


Love is taking time to address another's needs. In our lightning-fast world where the average attention span is less than two minutes, time is a valuable commodity and should be handled as such. By giving the gift of time to a coworker or customer, we show that we value them above all of the other things that cry out for our attention.

One of the most powerful love practices at work is the pause, making time to be fully present with another person. We ask each other "How are you doing?" all the time and never really mean it. How tragic!

Take the time.


One of my favorite teachers from high school taught a subject for which I initially had little regard. However, it soon became clear that he was as interested in his students as he was his subject, and he taught it in such a way that they would truly benefit from his instruction.

Love is teaching someone else with gentleness, discernment, and selflessness. By offering up our experience and hard-won knowledge, we can help others to avoid mistakes that we've made, achieve results that we've been able to achieve, and improve beyond what we've been able to accomplish. The most effective teachers walk alongside their students as they learn, appreciating their accomplishments rather than emphasizing their shortcomings.


Of course we can all go through the motions-do the right things, implement the right practices and believe in the right ways-but how we do our work makes all the difference. Acting with passion and out of compassion is the difference between mundane and memorable.

Acknowledging our weaknesses, mourning our losses, and comforting each other through difficult times will strengthen our relationships like nothing else can. True compassion requires us to be vulnerable and to admit our own struggles even as we offer empathy and support to others.


Love is offering heartfelt words of affirmation, inspiration, and motivation to our customers and coworkers. We all need someone-not something-to root us on from the sidelines of our lives. We should seek to notice when others do well and hold them up when they fail. Often neglected, encouragement is probably the easiest way to incorporate the irresistible ingredient into our lives and relationships. If we just look around, opportunities to encourage others are everywhere.


Love is serving others without expecting anything in return. Service is part of nearly every job description, but the concept goes far beyond making sure that a customer's questions are answered or requests are fulfilled. Irresistible service happens when we anticipate needs and respond with insight and excellence.

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