As a full-time speaker, author, and humorist, the most common question I get from audience members is, “Ron, how do you keep your sleek figure and alabaster complexion?”
It’s a fair question and the answer is simple. Fiber.
It’s true. I’m very regular, and it gives me this attractively weak and washed out look.
The second most common question I get is, “What do I do if my boss just doesn’t get it?”
In other words, my boss is too uptight and does not appreciate the need to have balance at work.
While fiber might also relieve your bosses uptightedness, I’d like to suggest other alternatives.
But first, to give you the proper context, you need to understand that my message is simple: Seek excellence first and then have fun along the way. Unfortunately, many supervisors, managers, and leaders don’t embrace the fun part. But worse than that, they often misunderstand the excellence part as well. As a result, balance on the job is lost.
You see, since childhood, we have been encouraged to seek seriousness rather than excellence. We’re told to act our age, grow up, and wipe that smile off our face. Additionally, it is often considered a badge of honor if you are a serious student, take your work seriously, or are serious about your art. But, the key to our success in life and work is not seriousness — it’s excellence.
I’ve never encountered an organization whose mission statement said, “we strive to be the most serious organization in our industry.” If that was the goal, most organizations would be out of business in no time.
Similarly, many bosses have a reputation for being overly serious. It’s as if we’re given a manual when we become a boss that encourages us to be serious and uptight in order to be believable as a boss and to fit the level of responsibility we now have. In other words, we think we should look like a boss.
Unfortunately, this not only leads to ineffective leaders and managers, it also attracts the wrong employees and spreads a seriousness dysfunction throughout the workplace.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I take my work seriously. I’m just not too serious about my work. Those are two different things. We need to be invested in our work and committed to good outcomes. But if we’re too serious about the work itself, we lose our balance and perspective — and those are both critical ingredients for doing a good job.
If you’re in a work situation where your boss doesn’t seem to get this whole balance thing, I believe there are a few things you can do to help the situation.
Talk about it. As a social worker, I was trained to address “issues” rather than ignore them. How can we expect to handle problems or change our situations if we don’t address them? So, the first approach is to address the “doesn’t get it” issue with our boss. We do this with care and respect. We don’t just launch into, “You just don’t get it do you?” Instead, we may discuss how important balance is and how we believe that our fellow employees would benefit from this type of workplace. We can also ask questions to uncover our boss’s perspective about the work environment to better understand him/her. And lastly, we can share articles, research, and information to suggest a new approach. This should all be done in the spirit of help rather than criticism.
Create a grass roots movement. Many changes in society began because a few passionate people got together to make a difference. We can do this in the work environment too. Most leaders don’t want to take on more work. If, however, a group of committed employees offers to work together to make a positive change, the leaders will often support it. I’ve seen Fun Committees and Employee Activity Groups whose main focus is to find ways to offer fun and rewarding opportunities for employees. When the bosses in an organization see the impact of these efforts, they can be swayed to embrace the overall idea of balance. And to further continue the cause, give your boss credit for supporting it. This is called positive reinforcement!
Consider making a job change. Lastly, if your current work situation is just not what you want to do for 40-50 hours each week, you might start looking for something else. When I worked in hospice care, I never encountered a patient, at the end of his/her life, who said, “I’m really glad I stayed in that job I didn’t like for all those years.” We sometimes feel stuck in our job but there are other opportunities out there. It may take some time and we may have to do something else in the interim but when you see all the people who have found their work bliss, you know it’s possible.
Sometimes, our bosses just don’t get it. Sometimes, our colleagues just don’t get it. And sometimes, we just don’t get it. The key in life and work is balance. We must be good at what we do by taking our responsibilities seriously. But, we must also have fun along the way by not being too serious about our responsibilities. Then, we’ll all get it — and success will follow.