Are you having fun doing what you are doing? Too often folks associate “fun” with “lightweight” or "not earnest." We even throw around the word “serious” as if it is a compliment, as in, “She has a serious job.”
There are certainly times when humor and/or a lighthearted approach simply don’t feel appropriate, but my sense is that there are a lot of folks who are suffering from, well, a serious need of lightening up a bit. We need to make a habit of looking for more fun in our days—asking how we can “make it more fun,” or at least feel better in more life situations—especially at work. After all, are we more productive and of the most value to others when we are “grinding,” or when we are in in the midst of inspired action?
Certainly neuroscience supports this argument! In fact, this entry is an expansion on my comment responses to colleague, Jesse Lynn Stoner’s excellent post on rewiring your brain for leadership. Jesse’s advice includes guiding our thoughts toward the pleasant and the positive, especially during periods of high-demand on our personal resources.
This blog is focused on self-leadership, so let’s expand on our personal mental models of what is fun. My idea of fun includes inner life fun, and “inspired action” fun. A partial list…
Does your desire create enough spark to jump the gap from inspiration to action? Not all desire is created equal. There are weak desires and strong desires. Weak desires are more easily slowed or deflected by conflicting beliefs or short-term challenges. Strong desires will help us seek the alignment and focus we need to make the jump from dream to reality.
A strong desire is something that comes from your essential nature, and that is intimately connected with your individual preferences, abilities, and purpose. We’ll call this kind of strong desire “self-connected.”
Self-connected desires have a “why” that is motivated from the inside out.
A weak desire is something you do in order to comply with something outside you that you buy into just enough to recognize that it serves you at least SOME of the time. The inspiration for such a desire is also weak, because it is about complying to avoid creating a gap, and not about filling a gap you want to fill. If the inspiration is weak, so is the desire. (Please see the post before this one for an explanation of the relationship of inspiration to desire.)
There was a time in the early-80’s when, in spite of the three cups of coffee I’d consumed in less than an hour, I quite literally was having trouble keeping my eyes open sitting at my desk at the sales job I had—and this went on for weeks.
I thought I wanted out, but we already had a 15-month-old and Sue was pregnant with another, and my logical mind told me that the lucrative job I held was one I ought to keep—in spite of the fact that my body was telling me otherwise.
I was bored silly and felt trapped, but the desire to keep a relatively reliable income stream overrode the desire to try something new. Bringing another life into the house was a big enough change, and I didn’t want to introduce another.
But It’s no fun to do stuff you don’t buy into or like, and doing stuff that bores you or that you don’t like for too long—without some kind of coping strategy—can have negative effects on both psychological and physical wellbeing. It wasn’t long before my discomfort inspired the desire to seek new employment—the balance of desire had shifted.