I am off to Phoenix for a conference of Senior Executives. I choose clothes from my summer wardrobe and dig my sandals from the back of my closet where they have been hidden since we last saw temperatures above 70 degrees in Montana months ago. I pull out my travel size liquids, refill them and put them in their quart size bag. I stow my computer in the briefcase where it is easily accessible and choose shoes for the flight that are easy to slip off and on again. I head to the airport early to allow time for parking and moving through security with every one else going places for work and play. I wheel my bag behind me with my briefcase on top pulling out my driver’s license and boarding pass as I wait in line.
After having my boarding pass initialed that I am the person listed and seen in the driver’s license photo I move on to the conveyor belt for the x-ray machine. I remove my quart sized bag of liquids from the suitcase, pull out my computer and put it in it’s own separate bin, put my suitcase on the conveyor belt next to the bin with my computer, add my briefcase and bag of liquids to the belt. I take off my shoes and leave them there too. Holding only my boarding pass I walk through the x-ray machine and smile at the person who wants to look at my boarding pass again. Now I move on to retrieve my bags, put away my computer and liquids. I put my shoes back on and finally am ready to move to the boarding gate to wait for loud announcements and the opportunity to sit in a seat barely large enough to accommodate my average sized frame. And people say travel is not fun any more. The changes in security and fee structure of charging for bags, seat selection, food and any other conceivable service has dampened the enthusiasm of even travelers off to a long anticipated vacation. Now I am sensing and hearing that same lack of enthusiasm and passion for going to work each day.
Work can be fun again
The economic shift that has forced many organizations to downsize and cut benefits in order to survive has created anxiety, fear and heightened stress at work. Many people are now doing jobs that do not fit their strengths and passions or have added responsibilities from people that have been laid off. We have all lost friends and co-workers that we enjoyed working with and had developed friendships outside of work hours. In the process we have buried the ability to smile, laugh and have fun at work. We are too busy doing the tasks in front of us and worrying about keeping our jobs to find the energy and time for play and relaxation.
The world has indeed shifted in the way we travel and the way we work. Our passions for making a difference and doing what we do best still exist and need to be revived. You don’t have time to relax or play, right? You have too much work to get done, the schedule is tight and you already are working long hours. You are thinking – if I take time to play I will just have to work longer tonight. Stop for just a moment and consider this:
Play opens up new channels of creativity and increases the level of satisfaction we experience at work. How employees feel about their company is directly related to their level of productivity and creativity. Research shows that highly motivated employees are up to 127% more productive than averagely motivated employees in high complexity jobs. – Fortune Magazine, January 1998.
Laughter relaxes your muscles, increases blood flow, oxygenates the blood and releases endorphins that make us feel good. Laughter not only makes us feel good but by relaxing the brain it makes it easier to be creative and to collaborate. Solutions that seemed so evasive when we were anxious and stressed now pop up effortlessly in the midst of a good laugh.
Ben Zander, conductor for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and professor at the New England Conservatory of Music, was faced with the same problem every year for 25 years: Teaching students who were in such a chronic state of anxiety over the measurement of their performance, they were reluctant to take creative risks. One night, he sat down with his partner Roz Stone Zander, a therapist, to try to find a solution. They decided the best approach would be to give everyone an A, at the beginning of the course. The A was not intended as a way to measure someone’s performance against standards, but as an instrument to open them up to new possibilities. His point here is to help people we work with to remove the barriers that block achievement–and to embrace the mindset of giving an A, by letting go of rigid mindsets that keep people pegged.
Ben and Rosamund Zander, The Art of Possibility, Giving an A
What if you gave yourself permission?
Taking time to do nothing lets problems incubate and allows creativity to flow. How many times has a solution come to you in the shower or after your exercise session? Your mind continues to work as your body relaxes and releases the effort of focusing on the issue. What if you gave yourself permission to stare out the window or walk around the block in the middle of the day? Consider the possibility that you may be more productive by incorporating those quick “breaks” than by constant busyness of the seemingly urgent and important tasks in front of you.
What is your barrier equivalent to the “classroom A” that is blocking creativity and achievement? What will you do today to identify and remove those barriers and free yourself and your employees to work in new and creative ways? Let me know your ideas and I will share them next month.
Click here to share you ideas with me email@example.comTags: attitude, downsizing, productivity