Have you experienced a time in your career when going to work was painful? Are you in the midst of rapid change, or missional ambiguity, or feel like you have entered the “land of unknown?” If you haven’t been to these places, your employees may have — maybe even right now! So what can you do to change these painful trajectories?
Positive change – of course – begins with leadership. Leaders are the only ones who can calm the fears of the workforce. As a leader, you can learn to cultivate opportunities for yourself and others to exercise positive personal choice. We all have the capacity to choose.
So why not CHOOSE JOY! Here are a few of my own tips:
- Remember, the workplace does not exist to serve you, but rather is an opportunity to look outward and serve others. Of course, we work to survive and provide for our families, but there has to be more. My source of strength is my faith in Christ and remaining true to the values that I hold as sacred. If my focus is on a bigger paycheck and fancier title so I can buy more “stuff,” I quickly transmogrify into a negative, self-centered person. I end up only interested in my “stuff.” So what do I do when get a bit bored or don’t find my work interesting?
While I stay focused on doing the best I can in my current role, I also start looking, listening, dreaming and planning to identify the needs of others around me. This might lead me to put together a proposal for services I can provide and then start marketing that to the team. Other times, I’ve asked to attend a meeting and end up pitching the idea or providing a resource for the team that they didn’t even ask for. Before I know it, I’ve filled a previously unidentified void and the team is contacting me for collaboration on other projects. This is where I get really excited – joy overload!
- I routinely invest in relationships inside and outside my work group. I’m not talking about “using” people. Rather, I’m talking about showing a genuine interest in others and with an emphasis on exchanging knowledge. I’ve intentionally sought relationships outside of every department I’ve worked in. These relationships have almost always led to great learning experiences. Remember, you must be intentional about this.
- Look for opportunities to learn and prepare for the next adventure right in the midst of all the ambiguity and rapid change in the workplace. It’s hard to find joy when you are in the midst of a difficult work situation, a difficult boss or an unfamiliar process. Even here – especially here — look at the situation as a learning opportunity. It is very possible to CHOOSE JOY and so cheerfully navigate through the difficulty. My rule: I allow myself to have one pity party day a month. It gets pretty lonely if I stay there longer!
- Be willing – through self-awareness – to choose humility. Be willing to admit that you have both strengths and weaknesses. At times, I’ve placed myself in situations outside of my comfort zone and really bombed, but in doing so I discovered my strengths! That is where I find the greatest joy.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. As Cy Wakeman states, “eliminate the BMW’s in your life. (Bellyaching, Moaning and Whining).” Those attitudes will cause others to tune you out, and label you in a negative way. There go your opportunities for future growth!
- Rather, focus on what you do best. Forget about comparing yourself to others. We spend far too much time wanting what we think someone else has. You are unique and have qualities that no one else has. Some people have strong leadership skills. Some are naturally influential. Others are excellent at executing, or innovating, or thinking or problem solving. These qualities are all essential, but it is doubtful that we could find one person who has them all. So, find what excites you the most, what you feel most passionate about. That is where you will excel.
- Please don’t judge others based on your own standards! Give people a break. Sometimes, it’s not an issue of right or wrong. It might just be that others do things a bit differently but still get the job done.
- It’s easy to believe that you can be a positive influence on the BMW’s, but more often, you will get pulled into their drama. Limit your exposure to those that complain.
- Forgive the mistakes of others and focus on how you can recognize their strengths. Create a new vision of someone who you feel has disappointed you so you can learn to see them differently! Focus on that new image. Attach their name to it. A new perspective can bring forgiveness and understanding to a whole new level!