All around us there are signs that we are changing the way in which we want to spend our existence on earth not least the rise of the experience economy. Some will argue about the use of the term millennials, but frankly that misses the point. And the human race is adapting and changing to its circumstances in work as much as anywhere else. Societies evolve and change and we have to ask ourselves what we need to do to follow suit in the way we run our organisations?
Immediately we jump to solutions, whether that’s flexible benefits, flexible working, our approaches to pay, learning or careers. But in many ways the answer starts well before the baubles and trappings of vendor led “solutions”. It starts with who we are, how we are and they way we choose to be.
I’ll give you an example from my own profession, but it is equally as true for every single one of us that works inside an organisations. In the world of HR, about 10% of the things we have to deal with require a level of seriousness and sobriety. There are moments in our days and weeks where we need to bring deep and meaningful thought and focus.
But there are 90% of moments where we don’t. We can choose exactly how we want to show up and the experience that we want others to have of us. My career has been full of disapproving looks from HR professionals who somehow feel that they are the standard bearer for the earnest and serious profession of Human Resource Management. Jokes are met with with comments about “appropriateness” and any suggestion of light heartedness met with a steely, and deeply underwhelmed, air.
Our experience at work isn’t driven just by the processes and systems that we put in place, in fact I’d argue that these are absolutely secondary, it is driven by the atmosphere and interactions that we have with those around us. If we are having a great time with our colleagues we can put up with all sorts of suboptimal situations, and we do. Who we are and how we are will always trump what we have to do.
So as you start your working week, just have a think about the levity and light you can bring to situations, the way in which you can change the experience for everyone around you and for yourself. Life is too short to stuff a mushroom, but it is also too short to listen to the cardigan wearing, tissue up the sleeve brigade. Let’s create an experience at work that people want to invest time and effort in and let’s do it by being a little lest earnest and having a little more fun.
1) Learn in times of adversity – when things are tough you’re forced to look at life with a level of granularity and forensic inspection that can be absent in normal or easier times. Understanding the insight you gain, but not dwelling on it, is key
2) Walk forward with kindness – in the current climate it feels easier to polarise, to hate and to divide. Walking forward with kindness is a simple way we can all shed a little light n the world and bring small actions together to drive change.
3) Action is everything – in the grand scheme of things, we have so little time. Action is everything and defines who and what we are. We can talk and mull and ponder, we can write and reflect and rework. But only the doing actually matters.
4) Live in the gaps – busy lives are full of stuff, of competing demands. They’re noisy and pressured and complicated and oppressive. Live in the silence and gaps that emerge between. Indulge in the moments of nothingness.
5) Do over (and over) – there is no start, no middle, no end. Just a series of iterations and circles. Don’t be afraid to do again, to try, to repeat, to renew and revise. There is no path to take a wrong turn from, just a simple horizon to head for.
Have a good Christmas break and see you in the New Year.
Is it me, or is there a general sense of menace and disgruntlement in society? Sometimes it feels like an all-pervasive nastiness is in the air – like atoms bouncing off one another, we go around getting increasingly grumpy with the world.
And of course whilst we can’t all sort the BIG issues of the day, we can do somethings, sometimes to make life a little bit better for someone else.
- Make a coffee for a colleague without asking. Just take them a drink along and say “I made this for you”.
- Have a conversation with a shop assistant. Not about your shopping, just make eye contact, smile and be nice. Treat them like a person.
- Open a door for a stranger. Not metaphorically, but literally. Engage your inner English Gentleman and hold the door.
- Let someone out at a junction. On that drive home, when you’re desperate to get back into your sanctuary, make a little bit of time to help someone else do the same.
- Ask someone who looks lost whether they need directions. Sure, this depends on where you are, but if you get the chance, give it a go.
- Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. OK, so there’s a caveat to this – make sure it’s situationally appropriate. But take the chance to say hello.
- Send someone a thank you. Take a moment out of your busy life to write a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be for anything big or clever, just real.
- Give your seat up with a smile. If you commute to work on a train, a bus a tram or a tube give your seat up for someone else. It won’t hurt you to stand for one trip.
- Buy someone a treat. It could be your receptionist or security guard. The person at the crossing by school. It could be a chocolate bar, biscuit or snack – just because.
- Take time to listen. I mean really listen Give up half an hour of your day to look the person in the eye, put your phone down and not think about anything else.
We can’t change the big stuff, but if we all change the small stuff, the world can be a slightly nicer place.