Work is Love Made Visible

It has percolated in my head for days. This little quote from Khalil Gibran.

Work is Love Made Visible.

Yes, Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet-mystic. My friend Suzanne Daigle snuck it into an email she sent me last Monday.It has haunted me ever since.

Tis the week that leads into Christmas. A week when the word LOVE has heightened meaning. A week when I tend to reflect about what I have loved about my life, and my work, this past year,

As I sit at the Dusseldorf Airport two days ago, waiting to board a plane, I catch a video in one my of social media feeds. A tarmac worker in Rochester – you know, the guy that waves the red light sticks to safely guide a plane to its gate – was unknowingly filmed as he was ferociously performing his job like a dance on the tarmac: #tarmacman #employeeoftheyear

Full commitment.

No holds barred.


That is the Love of Work Made Visible.

The video makes me weep with joy. It has been viewed by over 17 million people in a week. When Kyran Ashford, the tarmac dancer, is interviewed by his local ABC station he says his goal is to give at least one traveler “30 seconds of positive vibes.”

The power of love made visible. In the midst of performing an entirely routine task.

For every tarmac man who is captured on video there are millions of people all over the world who make love visible every day, moment by moment, no record.

The pastry chef who hands you the muffin she just baked. The clerk at the bank who greets you with a smile. The teacher who takes an extra five minutes to speak with you after class. The rockstar at work who happily mentors you.

It’s a choice. All choice.

I have a conversation with the taxi driver who takes me from the Bonn train station to my hotel in the Bad Godesberg suburb. The fellow is a Venezuelan who lives in Germany. I’m a German who lives in Florida. We banter back and forth about the benefits of living in the US versus Germany. He has family in Atlanta and knows the US well. I am the sort of German who no longer wishes to live in Germany.

Living in Germany, he declares adamantly, is a choice. I LOVE Germany. And as we pull up to my hotel he’s the one who says to me Thank you for the conversation.

He gets it, I think to myself. How we feel about where we are. How we do the moment, every moment. Choice. Work is Love Made Visible.

What riles me are the complainers. The folks who habitually complain about everything that’s wrong at work. I chat about this with my German colleague Cornelius Stiegler, an organizational change consultant, as we feast on fabulous sushi at Dudu in Berlin Stadtmitte.

If you habitually hate your work, I say to Cornelius, get another friggin’ job. Nobody is forcing you to work there. I hear myself getting strident as I speak. Cornelius indulges me and responds with a bit more compassion. You know. The complainers have a family to support, benefits to maintain, feel they don’t have the power to change things. Cornelius is right. But come on, please.

It’s choice, it all is.

Make it visible, please.

Tarmac man has a hyper-routine job. It’s a choice.

Every day you and I go to work we perform tasks. Engage with folks. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions. Let’s make it visible, please. In the easy moments. In the tough ones. The ordinary ones.

Christmas Day is Kindergarten stuff. It screams MAKE LOVE VISIBLE. Why not every day?

Have a happy and inspired and very very blessed holiday weekend. And please remember Kahlil Gibran the day after.

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