Over a team dinner of authentic Italian food tucked away in the hills of San Francisco, a small group of coworkers, including myself, celebrated another teammate over bubbly conversations and freshly made pasta. We blended stories of our personal and professional lives as fluidly as the warm Parmesan cheese melted over the asparagus side dish.
Across from me sat a teammate who started at the company around the same time I joined this team, and in that tenure, built a marketing program from scratch, grew a hungry, hard-working team, and delivered a smile with every move. I admired her. During the dinner, amongst the small talk and laughs, she asked me:
“What drives you?”
My interest was piqued; the same way my border collie cocks his head to the side when I mention a car ride. The question may have only been three words, but considering and answering the question could take an endless phrases.
Before I responded, I thought back over the past few days. This dinner came on the heels of my local community theatre’s production of the Wizard of Oz. I was lucky enough to be a part of the ensemble, dancing my way to Oz every few scenes. Moments before opening night, as the house seats filled amongst the rustling of the programs, our show director said a few words of encouragement backstage.
“We don’t know how the audience is feeling. We don’t know if they’re happy or sad, or what’s on their minds. All we can do is take them on a journey, and give them a few hours of entertainment. We’re making magic. That’s our job.”
The cast of characters cheered from the director’s speech (I think the Lion roared). It was true. We were there to entertain and bring joy. I’ve written about my love of theater before, and the way it makes my heart burst with excitement and love each time I step on that stage. I wanted my excitement and joy to be shared with each person in every seat. We should all feel it. That’s magic.
I love my job the way that I love theater. I come to rehearsal the way I come to work: ready and eager to go. At each rehearsal, I practice as if it’s the real show. At work, I re-read and fine-tune each tweet, blog post, and ebook to make 100%. I started doing this because my father told me that hard work pays off, but I kept this approach because I saw it made me better. I was becoming a better writer, and a better dancer. By being better at the job at hand, I was able to deliver a more entertaining and effective experience.
Whether you’re going to see a show, you’re nose-to-screen in the most helpful blog post, or you’re amidst a hilarious cat pun-filled Twitter thread, you’re being entertained. Consciously or not, these experiences are taking you out of reality and bringing you to a magical place where you can imagine that anything is possible. And while we can’t live in Magic Land permanently, it’s a great place to visit. It’s a place where you can share experiences, learn, play, and free your mind so that you’re potentially more prepared and ready to dive back into your reality.
What was my answer to my coworker’s question? What drives me is entertaining others. Whether it’s on the stage, by blogging, or through a punny tweet, I enjoy making people happy. And if I can help people while we’re at it, that’s even better.
So now I ask you, the same way my successful, smart and inspiring coworker asked me: What drives you?