A Janitor Taught Me the Real Secret to Professional Satisfaction

And it sure wasn’t “do what you love”

The Maverick Files
6 min readAug 4, 2022


Photo 207751245 © Sergey Pakulin | Dreamstime.com

Dreamsellers love to sell dreams that may never come true but will make them enough money and earn them enough followers.

The most common and yet the most crappy piece of advice going around is to do what you love, and if you can’t, then learn to love what you do.

The logic behind it is a very robust one — you can’t really spend most of your waking hours doing a job that doesn’t give you joy.

I call this very rational and seemingly innocuous advice utter crap.

I was quite convinced it is the most obvious way towards a content life and especially on a professional front — until I met an amazing man in the most unexpected of places.

The man with shit all around him, yet the biggest smile

It was back in my final year of college that I met a rather peculiar person. I’d walk past him nearly every day and exchange a smile, yet I knew nothing about him or his life.

He was the janitor who cleaned the toilets of our college campus. I’d see him walking around mopping the floor with a mop that was definitely not in the best of conditions. It was as if it had never been replaced. The cloth or fabric at the end of the long stick had worn off so badly that the old man probably needed to put in thrice the effort and time he’d need to put with a new or proper mop.

Yet, he never complained — the infrastructure in Indian colleges and expenditure on a cleaning mop can sometimes be questionable.

He’d have a big smile on his face even when he’d be unblocking the clogged common toilets of the men’s hostel and ridding them of unpleasant shit (literally).

I’d seen janitors before, but most gave angry stares when someone walked over a floor they’d just mopped that was still wet or gave a dirty look when they saw someone leave a clogged toilet after doing their business.

This guy, however, always had a smile.

One day, I decided I needed to know the secret behind his constant smile.



The Maverick Files

Thinker, finance professional, loving husband, a doting dad, fitness enthusiast! MBA in Finance & Marketing and Comp. Science Engineer. www.themaverickfiles.com