I had a coffee with a new person this week, who is just doing that brilliant thing of reaching out. So good to connect. To listen, talk and be heard.
We ended up having a conversation about getting our Mojo back – making the time and space to focus on the work that makes us happy.
Even as self-employed, with plenty of autonomy in theory about our working lives, how easy it is to get into a rut. Where we’ve let the defaults of new patterns of working take hold.
How much more difficult it is to notice and act when you’re operating at a larger scale. Running a company made up of a myriad of interconnected unpredictable human beings.
The starting point though has to be to notice that happiness and productivity are intertwined.
I’m still curious about how much we know this to be true on one level, and yet we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge it at work.
So if we do need convincing that it matters, here’s my quick pitch:
- What would you notice if everyone looked forward to work on a Sunday evening, rather than the apprehension of the week ahead?
- What would you notice if conversations were about ideas filled with energy, not the draining effect of who is to blame?
- What would you notice if it was as easy to talk to people who see very different points of view, without holding back for fear of the push you’ll get?
Sometimes we dread work because there are tensions that we haven’t got the skills and time and space to resolve.
Often it’s the structure of work that constrains us from making good decisions or being firmly connected to the people we’re doing the work for.
Other times we underestimate even our own capacity to learn and be productive in the right setting or be trusted to get on with the work.
If you’re running a tight ship it’s not easy to listen out for the signals that there are problems slowly building up over time. And where do you get the headspace to do anything about it? We’re used to juggling multiple crises, there’s always too much to do.
There’s no easy answer to this. Wouldn’t be great if someone could come along and take the problem away?
Instead, here’s three ways to make what you do do straightforward and effective:
- Find out where the energy is for change – whether it appears as disruption or positivity – these are the people that will help you turn things around.
- Be scientific – listen to everyone, don’t be swayed by charismatic people, get the whole picture and notice outliers or people you find it hard to talk to – this builds reciprocal trust and gives you confidence in the decisions you make next.
- Make it a sociable act – build your connections as you go along, give yourself time to join the dots, be open with the data and invite people to support you in making sense of it – take a punt on building trust, get people engaged in the purpose of what you’re doing.
Starting this way is challenging. There’s no rule book, just a set of principles and some bravery. But it’s stepping into a way of operating that speaks to what the body of research tells us about what it is to be human at work. This is the work that I makes me happy and productive– being the ally and angel with other brave souls.
Work matters. Being productive matters. Let’s embrace the joy that makes us really productive. Let’s have the courage to find the time and space to make it work for more of us.