Your best work environment? I do need to be happy and playful

When the Desert flowers by Martin_Heigan via Flickr
When the Desert flowers

Who we insist we are and will be!

I had to write a proposal over the weekend and I was astonished by the words that seem to come unbidden from my fingers.  Playful language, evocative language, jocular language.  Where on earth did it all come from?

A moment’s thought and it wasn’t difficult to deduce.  I’ve been doing some more conventional work in more conventional organizations. Everyone is so angry, so abrasive, so concerned that they are losing out.

Any good wishes seem calculated.  The smallest problem is a disaster.  Little is an opportunity to create a better and more joyful world together.

My proposal was little more than a response to 4 months in an emotional desert.  The flowers came out at the first opportunity.

Playfulness and joyfulness begets playfulness and joyfulness – I hope

Then I got two emails from people I don’t know – at all.  I had contacted them about their work.  In both cases, it gradually had come through that they were having to make a stand at work to be heard.  They are doing a good job. Smooth.  Polished.  And very, very professional.   But there was an emotional cost – an unnecessary emotional cost.

With no expectation of any sort of reply, I replied to each raising real questions about their work. I also pointed them to connections and opportunities that might benefit them.  They then replied to me with more connections.  They weren’t that interested in my ideas but they liked it that I had created a loop in their lives or reminded them of one that had fallen off the radar.

What is your essential environment?

I’d never thought of myself as needing to be in a playful environment.  I am not playful person.  I don’t come from a playful culture.   And that’s the under statement of the year.  I can at least make people laugh by taking off the favorite phrase of ‘my people’ – we will make a plan.

But I think I need a playful, joyful environment otherwise I try to be the playful, joyful one.  And I’ve not had much practice.

But I sent off the proposal anyway.  It began “I’d be delighted to spend my time in the company of lively burbling . .”

Do you think they will reply – not made here?

Designers teach work psychologists 3 questions to ask about work or any plan or bossiness about people

Mood hoovering work

I am a work psychologist and we design work.  We are brought up on a diet of (ersatz) experiments and (dated) statistics.  That’s not all bad. We are good at operationalizing – taking an idea and saying “what exactly are we going to do“?  We find Google Analytics easy to understand.

But we become very bad at people.  We even joke that is why we become psychologists.  Because people mystify us.

So we set out to learn from people who are good with people.

Psychologists learn from designers

Here are three questions that were blogged as a summary of Bantjes  (see that training, pedantically precise!). If we are going to set up mock experiments and tiresome evaluations, I suggest we hold ourselves accountable to these.

Three questions to ask about work or any plan or bossiness about people

Does it bring joy?

Is there a sense of wonder?

Does it evoke curiosity?

Failed at the off

My rendition does none of these things.  I can feel the energy hoovered out of me.   So do look up Bantjes when the videos on TED Global 2010 come out.  And let’s put the fun back into life.  Being orderly is good.  But being dispiriting is not.

Tight planning or joyful priotizing for 2010?

Do you plan your time carefully?

When I was a young psychologist, I advised people to schedule their time. My boss, an organized goal-oriented man, disagreed. He said that as long as you are doing something important, then it doesn’t matter what you do.

Before we went to meetings with clients, he would go through the our goal and sub-goals, which he would put in a meeting planner. Clients were well aware that he had a check list because they could see him looking at it and ticking things off.

He also ran the office with tight deadlines. He would phone in that he was coming to pick up his overnight work and he expected someone to be at street level to hand it to him through the car window.

His work was returned in the morning and with a ‘rinse and repeat’ the next night, all our work was turned around in three days.

But he didn’t do schedules.

What is the alternative to schedules?

I read a long post today from someone who scheduled his time for a whole year – very precisely.

I think working out how much time we have available is helpful so that we can work backwards to sensible work practices.

  • We can find a daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm that is enjoyable and effective.
  • We can discover what is important

Yes, we have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What will we do with it? We have a year, a month, a week, a day or an hour to spend. What would be the most enjoyable and satisfying thing to have accomplished in the next hour?

We need a system to make to find our priorities

Long “todo” lists and massive schedules are oppressive. I find people who have “calendars” simply fill them up and then claim they are very busy.

I don’t want to be busy. It only makes me impatient with others.

My 2010 priorities

I simply ask whether what I am going to do in the next hour enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful?

I simply ask how my day will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful.

Right now, I am asking why this week (or weekend) will be enjoyable, satisfying and meaningful

How will the remainder of this month be cherished and celebrated?

As I take my blank calendar for 2010, where are the moments in 2010 that will be enjoyable, satisfying and deeply meaningful!

And I will leave time, plenty of time, for events to surprise me and make the year better than I could ever dream.

In the words of poet, David Whyte:

“What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep?”

7 videos of joy, zest, enthusiasm

During Christmas, I am going to rewatch some videos on positive psychology that I have found particularly inspiring. Here are 7 of the best.

Smile and the whole world will smile with you.

A gentle love story about smiling, validation, emotional contagion and if you look carefully toward the end, the effect of networks on happiness.

Everyone gets an A

Ben Zander speaking at TED

Positive Psychology

Martin Seligman speaking at TED

Exuberance

Kay Jamison on exuberance

My stroke of insight

Moving yet inspirational talk by,  Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroscientist, talking about her own stroke at TED

J.K. Rowling delivering the commencement address at Harvard

And continuing here.  Author of Harry Potter books talking about sticking to her passsion and the responsibilities of Harvard graduates.

Starting close in

Dr Rao speaking at Googletalk

Have a good Christmas and a joyful and unexpectedly prosperous 2009!