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People are weird about love.

Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at 12:42 PM

People are weird about love.

Everybody wants to be loved, but nobody wants to talk about it.

We'll tell a stranger how much we love our iPod. Yet we find it difficult to look into the eyes of our parent, spouse or child and proclaim the same thing.

One place we're really weird about love is at work.

We want our customers to love our products, we want our employees to love their jobs, and we want the market to love our stock. But bring up the "L word" in a management meeting, and people will start to get uncomfortable.

I used to be weird about love.

I make my living as a sales and leadership expert. I speak at a lot of big meetings, and clients often call upon me to help get their people more enthused and inspired.

I used to use code words like passion and motivation. Then I realized, this is stupid.

The subject we're really dancing around is love, and we need to be brave enough to just come right out and say it - not in a meaningless manner, but for real.

Think about it. How weird is it that companies want their employees and customers to love them, yet they're reluctant to talk about how they, as an organization, can be more loving?

How strange is it that, when someone says, "I love my job," or "I love my boss," it is a compliment to the organization, yet very few bosses are willing to stand up at a meeting and express their love for their team?

The truth is, expecting to get love back from your job, or the market or your staff, without being willing to put any love in is just as silly as expecting your kids to love you when you rarely treat them lovingly.

Or expecting your spouse to love you when all you do is complain about the fact that they don't.

Oh, right, we do that, too. Like I said, we're weird about love.

The problem is that we tend think of love as a noun. It's something we want to get, and we're reluctant to give any away until someone gives it to us first.

But love doesn't work that way. It's a verb, and the way you create it is by putting it into action.

We may be more comfortable throwing around the "L word" in inconsequential way, as in, "You're gonna love our new double-stack burger," or "Wow, I love these new computers."

But if we truly want to generate passion and enthusiasm, we have to be willing to show up with it. And that means not only talking about love, but also demonstrating it.

Showing up with love for coworkers, your boss or your customers isn't really any different than showing up with love for your family. It's about listening, it's about caring, it's about making time for them, and above all, it's about deciding that you give a damn about their feelings, even when it's not convenient for you.

Love isn't some wimpy, woo-woo emotion. It's the most powerful motivator on this planet, and when you bring it into the workplace, amazing things happen.

I used to be weird about love at work. But I'm not anymore.

I love my people. I love the work that we do, and I love our clients.

And I'm not the least bit embarrassed about it.

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Angst is in the air: Be careful it's catching
Lisa Earle McLeod
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.