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?

Have fun at work. Pull your boss’ leg? Or is your boss pulling yours?

Work is not all serious

I’ve been writing serious posts.  That’s not surprising.  I’m of a serious turn of mind.

Have fun at work

But work is not all serious.  It’s possible to have fun at work and make money.

10 hacks for pulling your boss’ leg

Here are 10 hacks from dumblittleman for keeping good relationships!  They ar fun in a mischeivious sort of way

But what if they are pulling yours?

I suppose in countries where there is a strong tradition of irony, people will know what you are up to.  Heck, you boss might deliberately come in 5 minutes before you,  so you have to come in 5 minutes earlier!

Your boss might reply to your 5pm email with “as you have everything with you at home, can you sort this out quickly. See you in the morning at [your normal arrival time].”

Thank you for your coffee and ask for tea.

Do boss’ get irony?

It’s surprising how many people don’t get irony.  It’s also very surprising for someone in charge to get irony.  Being in charge does seem to make us blind to what other people think.

Can we remain playful and teasing in our approach to work?

Perhaps the dumblittleman can write 10 hacks for managers to remain playful and teasing in attitude to work?

If hard work doesn’t work, play harder!

Feeling the pressure

I taught a really really big class in New Zealand.  We had 800 to 900 students each year.

We took all comers.  We had people coming back into education after a long break.  We had A+ engineering students in their final year.  We had nervous 17 year olds in their first year at uni.  We always had 33 nationalities ~ though different ones every year.  And we failed 25% ~ as a matter of policy.

Students felt the pressure.  The course wasn’t hard. It wasn’t intended to be.  You can teach intelligent university students almost anything without making it hard.

But their marks yo-yo’d around.  A few more questions right or wrong in the quarterly quiz and their class rank could change by 100.

Dealing with disappointment

Some students worked like mad. They even worked hard when they were averaging 80+.  I explained that 80+ translated into A+ and 9 points on their GPA and there was no point in working harder.  But they felt a compulsion to work more even though there was no reward.

Others could see no reward for themselves.  They beavered away and got mediocre or even ‘failing’ grades.

They came to me in anger or distress.

“I work so hard”, they wailed.

My friendly but brief reply was “Don’t!  Be logical. If working hard doesn’t bring results, don’t. Go out and have a good time.  Be logical!”

Many did. Most did.  They could see no other way forward.

Playfulness often brings better results

They would visit me the next quarter with a big smile on their faces.  “It worked,” they’d beam.  “It worked!”  “I partied all term and my marks shot up!”

Of course, there could be many reasons why their marks shot up. No matter!  What they had learned was an invaluable life lesson.

  • We don’t control everything, particularly in a competitive system where our results depend as much on what we  do and on what other people do.
  • Rewards are not linearly dependent on effort.  Working harder does not necessarily bring a reward.
  • People don’t reward us because we want to be rewarded.  “The world does not owe us a living.”

Business does not reward you for working hard

So they learned the first lessons of business. And I hope they will be better managers for it.

  • Do the basics, do them professionally, do them at the right time, and STOP.
  • Do what the customers want, not what you want.
  • Go out and play. Other people will like you for it. You will like yourself for it. Business may even boom!

The simple lesson is that if hard work doesn’t work, try something else!

Smile.  Take a deep breath and just do something differently.  Mix it up!

And stop being such a control freak!

There!  Gave myself away.

Ah, well, if you must, then turn it into an AB experiment.

  • Record your results now.
  • Every day, write a short journal of how the day went.
    • Ask yourself what went wrong and how you could do better.  Then ask yourself why did you do so well.
    • Jot down the misunderstandings and confusions that you were able to explore to the benefit of you and the other person.
    • Ask yourself what questions you pursued with no guarantee of an answer.
    • Ask who you treated kindly, as if their lives were going to end at midnight.
  • After a month, ask how you life is going!  Will you carry this on for another month?

Or will you do an ABA experiment and go back to the way things were?

For the poets among us: this short poem gives the same message lyrically.

Exercise in extreme living ~ impersonate who you are not?

Extreme living ~ become a banker?

A few days ago, I suggested an experiment in extreme living: deliberately take a job you hate.  Why not?  Take a job you despise.  Become a banker or a politician.

Why would we want to live extremely?

A young member of the coaching world commented irritably – why would we want to do that?

Yes, indeed, all the the advice of the world of personal leadership is the same.  Be the person you want to be.

We can do what we don’t like because we trust ourselves not to be seduced by it

But the hallmark of someone who is utterly self-confident about their ability to find their purpose and meaning in life is that they can acknowledge what they are not. And they experiment with what they are not without fear that it will take over who they are.

Try this as a weekend exercise in extreme living

First do the simple personality test based on Paulo Coelho’s Virgin, Martyr, Saint or Witch?

Before you click to the other post, here are the three steps.

  1. Which are you: Virgin, Martyr, Saint or Witch?
  2. Which are you definitely not?
  3. Be what you are not for 1 hour this weekend – just one hour.

And if you can’t do one hour, try what you can.  5 minutes?

Grow your ability to live extremely weekend to weekend

Over time, the time that you can be what you are not, should grow longer.   And your assurance about who you are (with all the ridiculousness and humor of who you are will grow).

Once a week ~ impersonate who you are not?

Enhanced by Zemanta

3 Easy Sunday Ways to Master the 3 Principles of Design

It is Sunday today, and I want you to do three things for me.

1    Watch Dan Pink’s TED lecture on Motivation

2    Flick through Jane McGonigal’s slides for SXSW 2008 or  fixing reality.

If you have seen them before, remind yourself of slides 22 through 24.

3    Login in to Facebook and play FarmVille.

Why?

First, today is Sunday. I know you want to catch up with your reading but you should also be having fun.

Dan Pink, former speech writer, speaks good too.  Jane McGonigal’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is to win a Nobel prize for games design and she designs games that ‘give a damn’.  And FarmVille, though childish looking, is actually fun, and will probably get you chatting with a couple of old friends over your farmyard gate.

Learn about the Ryan and Deci (2000) 3 principles of design (ARC) in an enjoyable way

But mainly, because if your goal today was to keep up-to-date with what the gurus are saying, you should know that leading gurus are popularizing the research results of Ryan & Deci (2000).

Ryan & Deci boiled down the principles for designing for work, games and events that are compelling, engaging and ‘moreish’ to

Autonomy.     Can we make our decisions in this place?

Competence. Does the game, work, or event help us learn, and do the conditions keep pace with our growing ability?

Relatedness.  Can we play with others? Is this event socially-rewarding?

Dan Pink and Jane McGonigal may use slightly different terms, but these are the 3 attributes that are being described.

9m people are playing FarmVille (for free) on Facebook

As you play FarmVille, you can admire the ‘assets’ the games have deployed for our leisure and imagination and marvel that 9 million people will seriously attend to their farmyard online and nip over to their neighbours to chase the cows out of the strawberries.

You can also admire the way FarmVille draws you into the game by appealing to your autonomy.   This is your farm and your avatar.   They gently guide you through the possibilities and in a short time, you are as keen as mustard to develop some competence.

FarmVille has levels. I mysteriously found myself at level 3 – possibly it starts at three.   There is clear feedback that tells you how well you are doing and lets you work out the best strategies.   There are rewards that entice you to make an effort.   And there are levels that are both badges of honour and opportunities to try new things.  FarmVille even throws in some random rewards which, of course, are massively reinforcing.

And it is social.  You can see at a glance whom of your friends are playing.  You can send them free gifts.  And they can reciprocate.  You can visit their yards and admire their work (and aspire to catch up.)  You can ask them to be your neighbour.  You can rush over to help on their farm when you they are out and something urgent needs doing.

So a Sunday well spent?

Master the Deci & Ryan model.  When the gurus start propagating a model, you know it will become common knowledge very fast. Everyone will be quoting Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness soon (ARC).

And when we are all talking about the psychology of design and trying and learning to use ARC in our own work, Jane McGonigal will achieve her dream of seeing our ‘broken reality’ fixed and become a lot more like a game.

Will you fix reality with the 3 principles of design?

Will you be up there with the games designers, event managers and entrepreneurs who can design work and play worth living?

Or at least understand why some tasks are tedious beyond belief and others bring a light to your eyes, a bounce to your step, and a gentle smile, if not the singing of your soul?

Have a good Sunday, and if you are in the UK, a good Bank Holiday weekend.

Enhanced by Zemanta