Monday, February 26, 2020

Are you having fun yet?

Try these nine ideas and start making your work fun again

I just came across a web site dedicated to “The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun.” It’s not specifically about the workplace, but the principles it suggests would work really well there. Most of them fit closely with the basic principles of Slow Leadership, so I’ve taken the liberty of listing them here, with my own, workplace-oriented comments. I also added a ninth principle of my own:
  1. Stop hiding who you really are. So many people do this. They pretend to be someone else: someone more acceptable to the boss; someone more serious and determined; someone who might appear to be a high-flier; someone who “fits in.” Even professional actors need to take a break sometimes and just be themselves. Can you imagine the stress that you’re putting on yourself, trying to be someone that you aren’t, every hour of every working day? And what’s the point anyway? You are who you are. Totally unique in space and time. Who says you aren’t good enough? Don’t fall for that rubbish. All that matters for a satisfying life is to be the best possible version of whoever and whatever you are: to develop your unique talents, express your special personality, and contribute all that you can to the life and people around you. Never, never, accept that you aren’t “worthy.” That’s crazy talk. Being yourself, openly and with joy, is essential to having fun anywhere—and especially at work.

  2. Start being intensely selfish. I’m not quite sure about “intensely selfish,” but I see what they are getting at. I would rephrase this as: “Start standing up for yourself and what you believe in.” No one will ever have the same degree of interest and investment in your life and future as you. No one will ever care as much as you do. No one will ever understand your needs as well, or know what it is like to be you and do what you do. People are always trying to make us into the kind of people they want us to be; to make us fit the mold and conform to their views. Do they do this for our benefit? No way! It’s for them: to stop us causing them trouble, messing up their neat lives, asking for things they don’t want us to have. This isn’t the same as people who give us good advice or share their experiences to stop us making bad mistakes. I’m talking about those who will compel us to fit in, if they are able. Focus on yourself and your own needs. At work, it’s likely that no one else will.

  3. Stop following the rules. Yea! Those rules are there to force you into conformity. The more you follow them, the less creative, individual, interesting, and open-minded you will become. There are two kinds of workplace rules: necessary ones (like rules for safety) and the rest. The first account for probably less than 10% of all the rules around. You’ll never have fun by following the rules. You’ll just become a grey, boring, wage slave, with not a single difference from all the other wage slaves around you. You won’t even advance your career much. No one ever promoted someone who didn’t stand out from the crowd in at least some way.

  4. Start scaring yourself. To learn, to grow, to develop who you are, to find excitement and fun, you have to take risks. If it doesn’t scare you, it isn’t a risk. Fun is all about taking risks—look at all the theme parks with their scary rides. Look at all the people who go surfing, or snow-boarding, or climb scary mountains, or challenge their minds with reading and listening to great music. Don’t wait for the universe to start scaring you. It may well do so in ways you really don’t want. Start scaring yourself. At work, this means taking on new and scary challenges, volunteering for jobs that you aren’t sure that you can do, taking on learning opportunities that scare you. Dare to do what you’ve never done before. Practice “conscious incompetence.” Just do it!

  5. Stop taking it all so damn seriously. Especially yourself. The most boring, least fun people around are all those who take themselves so seriously it hurts. They drone on and on about whatever tedious things they are involved in. They get hung up with never losing face or admitting they are wrong. They demand constant reassurance about their inflated sense of self-importance. There’s one life. It’s far from perfect, but it’s all there is. Crap happens—often. The more seriously you take it, they more it will worry you, and the more pain you’ll suffer as a result. Most of the misery in the world that humans cause (and that’s an awful lot of it) comes from people trying to control their lives down to the most minute details. They think they’re so damned important that everyone, and everything, else has to be lined up for their convenience. It will never happen. Give it up, sit back, and enjoy your ride around the sun. You might as well, since there’s usually damn all you can do about it anyway.

  6. Start getting rid of the crap. I am constantly amazed at how much crap people collect around them, especially in the workplace. Pack rats look tidy by comparison. All those electronic gizmos to stay in touch, all the “to do” lists, the constant meetings, the endless e-mails and memos. How much of it ever accomplishes anything? My guess is that 80% of it is simply distraction and a waste of time. People complain that they have no time to do their jobs, yet waste most of the time that they have reading e-mails, attending pointless meetings, and contributing to the tide of organizational crap engulfing them by producing e-mails and calling meetings of their own. Give it up. You’ll be amazed how much time you have suddenly; and how much fun you can pack into it, in place of all the “stuff” that was there before.

  7. Stop being busy. Constant busyness is the curse of our generation. People believe that if you aren’t constantly busy, you’re not pulling your weight. The curse of the Puritan Work Ethic hangs over us, like a cloud full of misery and drizzle. Busy is not the same as productive. Busy doesn’t mean “good” or “worthy.” Mostly it means “doing things for the sake of convincing others that I am worth keeping on here.” When lay-offs started becoming commonplace, people began extreme efforts to appear busy every moment of the day. As Hamburger Management became conventional, bosses starting measuring activity, because they had no idea how to measure effectiveness, and they thought they should measure something. The result is people who are too busy to have fun, too busy to live their lives, too busy to enjoy anything. Don’t join them. Life has enough misery without adding to it.

  8. Start something. I can’t do better than quote a comment from an earlier post: “Trying something new is like catnip—irresistible fun. Getting better and better at something that I initially did badly—THAT breeds enthusiasm.” Don’t wait for others, or you’ll wait for ever. Start it yourself.

  9. Don’t worry what others will think about you. This is my “extra” principle. All too many people are stuck because they’re worried what others may think. The truth of the matter is that others are mostly doing what we all do most of the time—thinking about themselves. They aren’t concerned with you at all. A lot of the time, they aren’t even aware of your existence. So if, from time to time, they drag themselves away from self-absorption just long enough to disapprove of whatever you’re doing, ignore them. It’s your life, not theirs. Self-doubt and fear of embarrassment are major dampeners on any kind of fun. Throw them away. They aren’t worth the time of day.
When do people perform best at any task, from sport to nuclear physics? When they’re relaxed, intent on what they’re doing and more of less oblivious of everything else. When they’re having fun. So loosen up and enjoy your life.

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Drake Christensen said...

I love this post! I do need to remember that I should have more fun each day. One of the great things about Slow Leadership is that it always makes me think not only about my own fun but how I should work to allow, encuourage, and create fun for the people with whom I work.

7:42 AM  
vic said...

this is all great advice...if people could only read it every morning when they wake up to keep it on their mind and become pro active with this list, the world would be a better place! lets get happy now!

4:58 AM  
Lake Denman said...

good stuff.
very inspirational.

8:37 AM  
zinger said...


You have such an insightful blog. I appreciate how reflective you are about things and take them quite a few steps further through your thinking.

I featured your blog and this post on my employee engagement blog:

This is part of regular Monday percolator feature. I had to post it today as I am heading out of town.

Keep up the exceptional work.


6:37 AM  

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