Work and Love

31 min read

David Norris Ph.D. and Charles E. Smith Ph.D.


“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”

– Sigmund Freud

“.., all work is empty save when there is love… Work is love made visible.”           –

– Kahlil Gibran

It is certainly not saying anything new to observe that the business world struggles to create an environment in which performance and people are of equal concern.  Countless books and articles argue for the necessity of honoring both and almost no one would disagree with that.  Yet, almost no one is so naïve as to not know that when push comes to shove, it is performance that counts far more than people.

Is this simply just the way of the world with the push and shove revealing the inevitable either/or choice inherent in the situation?  Or is there perhaps something we’re overlooking in the matter – a blind spot, if you will – which, if we could see it, would make the apparent contradiction disappear?

This contradiction between people and performance derives from a misunderstanding of the fundamental relationship between work and love.  F. Scott Fitzgerald gives us a clue to resolving the apparent dilemma in his famous self-analysis article in Esquire magazine (1936):

 “The test of a first-rate intelligence,” he said, “is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” 

Perhaps our struggle with bringing work and love into harmony is a failure of Fitzgerald’s “intelligence” or as we prefer to put it, a missing distinction that would allow for a leap of consciousness.  As if to emphasize the point, Fitzgerald gives us another, less quoted observation in his first novel, This Side of Paradise

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