This weekend I bumped into a quote by the American writer and author of “How to win friends and influence people”, Dale Carnegie which I can so relate to that I have to share it with you.
“People rarely succeed unless they are having fun in what they are doing.”
When I pause to ponder this for a while, it strikes me that it is so utterly true. Consider for a moment some of those in the public eye who appear not to have enjoyed what they did, and then ask how successful they were or are:
- Gordon Brown: an Introvert if ever I saw one, whose primary role was to be the Extraverted public face of his party.
- The predecessor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who by many accounts was deeply uncomfortable with having to play the role of politician rather than pastor in order to try and hold the Anglican Church together
- Steve McClaren, who after a successful career as a footballer with Manchester United was sacked as Manager of the England Football team after only 16 months, and dubbed “The Wally with a Brolly” by fans and the media.
Speaking personally, I can well remember the year I spent as an Area Manager for a chain of Carvery Restaurants. I was responsible for everything in 8 restaurants from Wales to Kent, right down to the last penny. It was a role requiring me to do detail I don’t have the appetite for, to drive 56,000 miles in one year, to work regular 14 hour days at a time when I had two young children, and to execute several people decisions I didn’t agree with which resulted in people being summarily dismissed: decisions which were subesequently challenged in tribunals, and overturned. I used to wake up in the morning dreading the next wave of barked commands from the headbanging Ops Director. Needless to say I did not succeed in the role, and in fact came close to being dismissed for poor performance. I got out before they got me, and found myself in Marketing, where I could let my creativity out to play, and the fun started. It was a real turning point.
Marcus Buckingham’s book “Now, Discover your Strengths” challenges the idea that our personal development should focus on reducing our weaknesses. He offers instead the liberating idea that our best route to personal success lies in identifying and then building on our greatest strengths. If you’re good at being creative, pursue a line whereby your creativity can be unlocked and harnessed, rather than learn how to be less bad at detail. Of course, in the process you will be more likely to be having fun.
I certainly believe in having fun in the training room: we learn most as children, and children learn most through play, so let’s allow ourselves to be more childlike when we want to learn something.
And on a similar note, I’m a great believer in informality when negotiating: getting the other party “offline”, where they can afford to relax their stance, don’t have to play to the audience, and can be themselves.
Are you in danger of being too stuffy, and have you lost the ability to have fun at work? If you go whole weeks at a time without a laugh or even a smile crossing your face, maybe you might ask yourself what else you could do to bring more fun into your life.