Following from last week’s blog on joy and work which was prompted by this definition of coaching from Myles Downey when he said “Coaching is 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” I am reminded of my teenage years. Many of my closest friends all shared the same hobby. They were water-skiers. In those days water skiing was still allowed on a number of the English Lakes and most summer weekends would see the crowd gathered around a particular lake having great fun on and in the water.
Now when I say having great fun I exaggerate somewhat. Not everyone was having great fun. I certainly wasn’t. I was enjoying the friendship and the banter, the laughter and the carousing, of course, but I wasn’t having great fun, not all the time. There were parts of the weekend that were positively dreadful for me. Why? Well I couldn’t water-ski, and that was a problem. It was a major problem.
My friends had tried to teach me but I never got the knack. Looking back, I realise that I never really applied myself to learning. There were plenty of offers to help me further but for whatever reason I always rejected the offer. As a consequence, I failed to learn what, in reality, was a fairly straightforward and simple skill. Why I did that and why I failed to learn isn’t the subject of this blog. The point is that I never learned and so condemned myself to a series of summers and weekends of less than fun.
We know that competence and confidence are closely related. We tend to be confident in those things that we are competent in and we also tend to be competent in those areas in which we have some confidence. So it goes with fun. We tend to enjoy those things that we are good at and we are also good at those things that we enjoy. By failing to learn what I needed to learn I prevented myself from having the fun I could have had.
Those days are long gone now, but I wonder how well I learned the lesson that I was being taught. I wonder how many things are less fun in my life than they could be because I have failed to learn what I could have learned.
I wonder how many of us are failing to find joy at work because we have never tried to develop the knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviours that might have turned drudgery to enjoyment.
It seems ridiculous to condemn ourselves to a form of drudgery for the want of developing a few of the simple, easily learnable attitudes, skills and behaviours that might allow us to achieve, more easily and effortlessly those things that we currently struggle with.
As businesses grow the sense is that life gets easier and our problems become less. That is just not true. As businesses grow the problems just get bigger and if the business does not grow that in itself is the problem. We have to make sure that as the problems get bigger our ability to handle those problems or to prevent those problems arising in the first place develops at an even quicker pace.
That is why for the business to grow, the business leader needs to grow first and why it is only really as a consequence of that journey that it is possible to consistently achieve fulfilment- and maybe a little joy- at work.