Throughout my life I have had many jobs functions. I have been a sales rep and a lead carpenter for several construction firms, I’ve walked steel, and dug in the trenches. I’ve been in and out of corporate America, from a mid level manager to stocking shelves, and even delivered pizzas for some extra income at one time. A manufacturing trainer and group leader, to a barista for a cafe while I was going back to college as an adult and raising a daughter. There are few things that I haven’t done, and there are fewer things that I have not been willing to try. That mindset has put me in the place I am today.
There is one thing that I have sensed in most of my employment endeavors and that is a general level of unhappiness in those I worked with. Rarely had I met a person who was really happy, not only in the what they were doing, but also with whom they were doing it with or even for. There were some, mostly artists. Granted many of us do not have the adventure we would like to have in our careers, but we can make a change. In fact, there are several opportunities for us to change our situation either physically or in our attitudes towards them. OR EVEN BOTH!!!
A profound realization occurred to me which was, when I step outside of my comfort zone, and took a bit of a risk, I found myself infinitely happier in what I am doing, whom I do it for, and the people I do it with. The “it” doesn’t necessarily matter! Through this new idea a few new things happened. Firstly I was brought into a culture that was entirely foreign to me in a workplace. I was given a mentor whom, by his very nature, is excited about what he does. It’s kind of hard to stay indifferent when a 20+ year member of the team is still excited! Secondly, I was given some books to read and give a write-up about each, which was to go in my employment record. You’d never guess what these books were about! That’s right, they were about culture in the workplace and personal accountability. About not only seeking happiness, but bringing it with us! Each book, in its own way, laid out a path to which we can prioritize our lives, and find more enrichment in anything we are doing. To have fun, and play more! To ask the right questions instead of the wrong ones; to focus on one thing instead of 80. What I found is that we can be happy in what we do, if we change our attitudes towards it and diligently look for the one thing in each area of our lives to prioritize.
So who is Ted?
In my several methods of employment, there has been, in almost every case, the toxic energy dump. I am relatively certain that describing this lackluster group is not needed for anyone. Sometimes it’s a small group, and sometimes it’s an entire division. Blame, drama, complaining, and procrastination are the four horsemen of the “T.E.D.” (toxic energy dumps). I like to give things names, so I call these folks Teds. (this has no reflection on the speaker forum by the same name, but merely a coincidence!) Although there have been plenty of “TedTalks” around the Monday morning humdrum near the coffee pot! I’ve been employed in companies where even the owner was a Ted. I have been a Ted at times. If you spend enough time around them and aren’t aware of the energy they bring, it can leach on your very soul! They’ll try to turn you into a Ted too! But I have found the same to be true about people who are always thrilled to be at work, or enthused to be talking with you. (P.A.T. people always thrilled) I started to ask myself why is Pat always so happy, What does he know that I don’t. Doesn’t he realize how boring his job is? Why won’t he stop asking me how I’m doing? That was me being a Ted!
Pat may just have the most boring job ever, but that isn’t what his or her experience is everyday. They don’t go to work muttering about how they can’t wait til the work day is done and how meaningless their job may be to them; complaining about how they’re just not treated fairly enough. I have rarely heard a Pat say “that’s not my job”, or “I don’t get paid to do that”, or even still ” why can’t they just do their own jobs?”. That isn’t the energy they bring with them. Pats have found a way to be happy, and most of the time, look forward to their interactions again the next day, even when they’re interacting with Teds. Pat doesn’t base their entire work day on a specific mundane task, but upon the experiences they have, and the energy they bring to the office. It’s the same energy that allows them to go home, without bringing the office with them. They’re present in each situation and they bring happiness and a playfulness with them. They can change the mood you walked in with! They will change your day if you let them!
What? or How? to eradicate the Ted in you!
• Don’t ask why…not ever!
We are talking about the why questions that invariably end with self concern at the end. It’s a tone and an attitude of blame such as “why do they always do this?”, or “why can’t they just do their own jobs?”, or “why is this happening to me?” It’s a question in the form of a complaint and we Teds tend to do it all the time! It leads to disharmony, accusatory thoughts, and always comes across as being a victim to those around you. YOU”RE NOT! So stop and instead ask How? or What? questions! “How can I do this better?”, “How can I help them?”, “What can I improve in this situation?”. The tone itself eradicates the blaming and complaining, helps you feel empowered, more accountable and less of a victim.
• Don’t procrastinate or ask when?
Asking when, in its essence, lends to the idea that we have no control over an
outcome. That again, we are the victim of circumstance in this attempt. We then procrastinate, sometimes by our own volition, or with the excuse that someone else is holding the cards. And without fail procrastination always ends up in end of day stress. Again instead of when questions, ask what or how questions. “What can I do to find the answers I need?”, “How can I creatively find an outcome that works for us?”
• Repeat after me….. I can only change ME!
Make that your mantra for everyday. Be the change and others will see, believe and probably change with you. It’s really that simple! Remember these are just the basics to get you started on being mindful of your attitudes and interactions. I promise, even if nobody else falls for your Jedi mind trick right away, you will be happier and on your way to having a much more enriching work day, and that will do wonders for you when you’re not at work!
Letting Pat come out to play!
So, here’s the thing; if you have taken steps to eradicate Ted from your life, Pat has already begun showing up I bet. Pat, or in my personal case, Freddy, cannot resist coming out to play when the big ogre is shut up and locked away. Welcome to happiness!! And you thought there were steps to this right? Well there can be, but for now just let Pat, or Freddy or whichever name you want to use, be and play. Probably bringing water balloons to hurl at your coworkers in the office isn’t a good idea, but outside in the parking lot might be a great idea, with their permission of course!!! Or perhaps you can find a way to liven up stuffy atmosphere with your new-found happiness. But always remember that at times some may not believe in your new weird antics or might even think you received some secret lottery winnings. Sometimes the Teds out there don’t want to see one of their own becoming happy and gracious, and excited to be a part of the team. But they’ll be curious! Be creative in tuning up your environment! Perhaps start a blog about your new happiness and work culture, and invite them to read it!!
There may be times when you feel like the only Pat in the office. Perhaps you’re in a new task specific group where no one really seems to want to be there. Don’t let that sway you. I never really wanted to be the only excited guy in the room, but I always was excited when I volunteered for a project. In short order I found I would downplay it once we were in the boardroom. It’s easier to grumble than be excited right? Wrong!
Remember, it’s not us against them! We’re all in this together, and it’s up to us as individuals to choose the energy we bring to the table. We can change our environment! If we can change our attitudes and our outlooks, that is all it takes to change our experiences. That’s it. We don’t need everyone to do what we do to have a happier, more fulfilling day. We are not a victim of circumstance, but empowered to make the most of our time, and our experiences. What would cause anyone to choose to spend 8 or even 12 hours of their day in unhappiness? I did it for a long time and I still don’t know necessarily know why.
Today, I like the people I work with and especially the company I work for. I think it’s a privilege to be able to do what I can to be a part of the solution and a part of an amazing culture. I may not have a glamorous job to some, but I think it’s pretty fantastic what I get to do everyday! What is really cool, is the people I work with come from a lot of backgrounds, and we have fun at work. Sure, there is a Ted or two, but a little positive reflection and feedback, tends to change the way they look at things.
The most significant factor in these ideas, is when they become instilled from the top down. Perhaps you are a business owner or a supervisor, and just can’t seem to get the responses or the energy level from your associates. This works at any level, but I have seen the changes in the workforce it can make when the owner of a company takes it to heart. There are several great guides to help through this. My employer just happened to make a couple of them available to his employees! This is about instilling a culture of personal accountability, a culture which can thrive on a happy, fulfilled and productive team…that really wants to be there! They’ll be Jedi mind tricking you into growing your business soon enough!! Become the absolute best boss you can, by becoming happy in what you do, with clear goals, and fantastic encounters with your team!
Be the positive change you want in your career, and in your life!
Thank you for stopping by and if you get a chance check out my reading list of the books I have found very useful in reinventing this cog!