The Leadership Blog

Your Joy, is Your Job

accountability advice business building career help change choose joy coaching commitment courageous leadership leadership mental health Mar 17, 2024

This may or may not surprise you but living a life full of joy is your job.  Your spouse, your family, your friends, your circumstances or your job can’t guarantee your joy, only you can.  That’s an incredibly empowering fact my friend. One I wish I had learned at a much younger age. 

Don’t worry I’m going to break this down for you with concrete examples from my 30 years in leadership and stories from the life of the greatest marathon swimmer in the world Diana Nyad.  I just watched the Netflix documentary NYAD and it was truly inspiring.

Before I get to Nyad’s story, I’m going to take you back to 1994, I’m a commercial television medical reporter and noon anchor at a CBS affiliate in Greenville, North Carolina.  I’m an incredibly driven newlywed looking for my next job in TV. I’d been rejected countless times and I remember, like it was yesterday, standing in the kitchen of our small apartment with my husband Rob and saying, “I’ll be happy when we get there.  I don’t know where there is but then our life will be set.”  I was such a dumb 20-something.  I have loved this crazy career of mine with all its ups and downs, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know back then.  I didn’t know the cost of living was so low, I could enjoy experiences that wouldn’t be possible later.  I didn’t realize my husband and I would make lifelong friends there.  I didn’t know that riding our bikes and laughing all over town on a Saturday would set us up for being able to savor the simple things in life.  I JUST DIDN’T KNOW.

You see, part of my drive, at that time, kept me focused on the future and not on the present. 

“What’s there to be happy about? Job’s not finished.” Kobe Bryant NBA star

Kobe Bryant said that in a press conference in 2009 when his LA Lakers were up two games to zero against the Orlando Magic.  Bryant’s success was partially due to his determination and work ethic.  He wasn’t going to celebrate a half-finished accomplishment.  That’s a worthy strategy but a missed opportunity and one I know all too well.

Every day is a gift, and we need to live it out to the fullest.   Here’s tip number one.


  •  Don’t focus on the unfinished.


Yes, there’s still work to be done whether you’re building your career, leading a business, starting your own business, starting your first job or looking for your next job.  There will ALWAYS be more work to be done but find the JOY in each day.  Choose JOY.  That joy comes from your choices.  Choosing to see whatever comes your way as an amazing opportunity to learn and grow.  Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, it can help you grow if you let it.  Great power and joy come to you when you make that daily decision.  You can feel a sense of freedom, even if things are unfinished.


  • Make sure you have the right partner to process the unfinished.


It’s critical that you choose the right partner, according to your purpose. One person is too small a number to achieve greatness.  It takes others to truly reach our destiny.  But we often go wrong when we choose the wrong partner. It can cause years of setback and disappointment.  That person who annoys you, because they always see the good in things may not be your first choice, but they’re likely the best choice.


  • Don’t let pressure postpone joy.


Here’s a newsflash.  Life is tough.  There are no easy answers.  Our world is moving incredibly fast and no matter where you are in life, you’re in the right place to make a positive impact, if you choose to make it.  Stop whining about this is hard or it’s not fair that so-and-so doesn’t pull their weight.  Stop complaining about how little you earn and start being grateful for whatever you earn, wherever you earn it.  Coal turns into diamonds thanks to pressure.  The pressure in my life is making me who I’m intended to be.  I’m not done yet and while I handle pressure a lot better today than I did in my 20’s, I’m likely going to have pressure until I take my last breath.  You probably will too.  Let’s choose to look at it as helping us become who we were meant to be and that allows us to be joyful.


  • Don’t let your process become your prison.


Anyone who knows me knows how much I like to think about possibilities.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I don’t like to be surprised or caught off guard, so I think of options for every possibility.  That serves me well sometimes but not every time.  It’s good to think of options, but my problem is often my mind spends too much time on the worst option.  Everything’s going to fall apart, and we all die. Ok, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but I bet you know what I mean because you’ve spent some time doing that too.  We all need a process to get better and that’s a good thing, but we have to be careful not to be so tied to the process that it becomes a prison.

Here’s what I hope will add a little more encouragement for you: three lessons from the Diana Nyad story.  It took her five tries to reach her goal of swimming from Cuba to Key West.  She finally accomplished her goal at 64 years old.


  • Never Give Up.
  • You’re Never Too Old.
  • It may look like a solo job, but it always takes a team.


As I watched the movie Nyad this week I thought to myself, I love her drive, but she lost her joy.  I don’t know her personally and I can’t say if the movie was an accurate depiction of her life or not, but she pushed people away with her drive and she didn’t express her gratitude for others until the end.  I don’t want to live life that way.  I know my joy is my job and I’m going to do all I can to express joy in everything I do, and I hope you will too.