One of my coaches and author of a number of books including the recently released ‘Enabling Genius’, Myles Downey defined coaching in another book ‘Effective Modern Coaching’ as “the series of conversations that help a person perform closer to his potential, understand his role or task, learn what he needs to learn in order to complete his role or task successfully, develop the skills required for the next role, and, on a good day, achieve fulfilment- and maybe a little joy – at work”.
Which started me thinking about Joy and specifically joy at work. When I have used this quote before it has often been met with a degree of startle and the occasional guffaw. Almost as though the concept of joy at work were a contradiction in terms. If you listen to the conversations of many people you, like me, might wonder if joy and work are mutually exclusive. Certainly the word ‘work’ is one I try not to use too often.
To me it is a four letter word which sounds ugly, it sounds unappetising and unappealing. It sounds dreary and evokes images of drudgery. So I have almost completely banned it from my everyday speech, because when I think of how I earn my living, what I do when I am not relaxing I don’t want that thought to bring me down. I want it to lift me up. I don’t want to be thinking about all the stuff I have got to do I want to enjoy all the things I get to do.Someone once said, “find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” I believe I have been able to do that, but even if I hadn’t I like to believe that I could find enough reasons to enjoy any task that I had to complete.
Our attitude to what we do is a significant factor in the enjoyment we are likely to derive from it and we get to choose our attitude. So why would anyone deliberately choose an attitude of dread about what they do for most of their waking hours? Mark Sanborn wrote a very uplifting book called ‘The Fred Factor’ about someone who decided to be the very best he could be in the execution of his job, lowly though some might consider it to be. It was based on a decision that Fred made to be the very best he could be within the context of the job he was doing.
There may well be a lesson for all of us in that fable. The decision to be the best we can be is the starting point. The pursuit of being the best we can be is the journey and the execution produces the fulfilment and joy that we all crave. So maybe when we are looking for joy and fulfilment the environment is always trumped by the attitude.