“Duty: a task or action that a person is bound to perform for moral or legal reasons”
~ Collins English Dictionary
I’ve been thinking a lot about duty lately. It’s one of those cultural values that many of us respect, for good reason. The word brings to mind a soldier defending his homeland or a parent sacrificing for their child’s welfare.
Duty has an especially strong hold on me for some reason. If I believe that something is my moral duty, I buckle up.
I can sometimes forget, though, that there are often so many ways to ENJOY the things that we may classify as our duty. I don’t always think about making adjustments if something isn’t fun for me. It’s my duty, after all – it doesn’t need to be fun.
Take my phase of parenthood, for example. Raising a toddler and a baby is a lot. I’m tired most of the time. There is a lot that I treasure about this season, but I get overwhelmed thinking about the fact that I will have small children for many more years. Showing up to that responsibility every day can feel heavy.
Do I want to stop showing up? Of course not! But I am trying to make ‘I will do my duty’ my second response rather than my first. I want my first response to be ‘what is there to love about this place, this season, this age?’
I’ve decided to treat myself more often than I might otherwise – more time in nature, more date nights, more asking the babysitter to watch the kids so Andy and I go in separate directions and enjoy some alone time. I’m tempted to feel guilty for not enjoying this phase of parenthood enough, but I think it might be more constructive to seek out delight so that I CAN enjoy this phase of parenthood more. There will be times when I’m doing things I don’t enjoy, absolutely. There will be times I have to do things that are really hard. But I don’t have to leave fun at the door just because raising children is the most high-stakes work I have ever done.
Does this apply to business, too? It does.
There are things in business that have the weight of duty to them. We have a duty to keep our promises to our customers. To be financially responsible. To learn and improve. To build an ethical business. We have hard seasons we want to leave behind as quickly as possible. But what would happen if we looked for ways to lighten that load? Maybe even to make it kind of fun?
It could look like seeking out a community of mutual support that has no monetary value beyond helping us stay the course. Or maybe giving more away – more ideas, more pro bono work, more mentorship. Or, it could look like giving less away – setting more boundaries or saying no without needing to defend yourself.
If we’re not enjoying our businesses, we don’t have to just keep trudging forward. Things that bring us joy have value in and of themselves. What we want to do matters too.
This idea has been encouraging for me…I hope it feels the same for you.
Until next week,