Posts Tagged ‘no fun at work’

Growing Old, Not Up

January 26, 2009

As mentioned a few times before, I’m mumblety-two years old.  Let’s just say I watched Ike through the slats of my crib on the ol’ black and white television with all of three channels.

Admittedly, that’s chronological age.  Emotionally I’m still a kid.  I like to play.

I was talking recently with a friend in more or less the same line of work* about how difficult it is in a career to balance work and play.  If you act like you want and play, even if you are very capable at what you do, you don’t go up the corporate ladder.  However, if you “act your age”, you’re liable to burn out and become painfully cynical.  Me?  I’m in the second phase of my career.  In the first phase, I was smart enough to rise up the corporate ladder.  I also saw the rare other high level executives who could still play, while being effective and efficient at their jobs.  Therefore, I thought I could as well.  That philosophy came crashing down when I hurt my neck crashing into the “act your age” glass ceiling.  While those other executives snuck through, I was stopped cold.  And done.  And cynical.

But not dead.  I came back in a similar job in the same bureaucracy, but starting over.

I’m trying to recapture the playfulness, both personally and at work.  Work is too serious to be taken seriously.  Hell, LIFE is much too serious to be taken seriously.  You need to work hard—and live seriously—yes, but have fun doing so.

Two events helped me see this is both harder…and easier…than I thought it would be.

First was a mandatory workshop set up by my bosses.  It was intended to teach us to think creatively and synergistically to solve problems.  On
arriving at the workshop, I was delighted to see little toys — legos, plastic cars, bouncy balls, crayons.  The workshop facilitators hit it right away–“You need to have fun at your job to be creative at your job.”  Excellent!!  Finally an advocate of the way I like to work.  I fell full throttle into the class.  I was multi-processing, playing with the toys while still listening to the facilitator and participating in the exercises.  Those around me (who happened to be from my office) were doing the same.  Comes the first break and a facilitator walks up to us, “I’ve been asked to tell you to tone it down.  You’re having fun is distracting the others from their learning.”  “Okay, let me get this straight… having fun is distracting from learning that having fun is essential to job creativity?”  “Right.”  My energy for support and participation in the workshop went from 100% to 0% in a matter of moments.  I used much of the remainder of the meeting using the crayons…quietly…to write over and over, “Shut Up And Color”.

It’s going to be hard…

The second was a recent and brief interlude in life.  A passing moment.  I went shopping at one of those warehouse stores and bought a bunch of
stuff for my condo.  It was very busy that day and I had to park quite a distance away.  Feeling the need, I started running with the shopping cart, getting it up to speed, then jumping on the back for a ride down the parking aisle (visions of the movie ‘Titanic’, on the bowsprit, “I’m the king of the world!!”).  It was exhilarating.  Whenever the cart slowed down, I repeated the process.  Just before getting to my car…and just as I had jumped off…a car comes pulling up beside me.  The lady driving rolled down the window and hollered, “Hey!”  Now, she looked to be about my age, as well as seeming a no-nonsense mom type.  Just because I’m mumblety-two doesn’t mean I won’t react to a Mom calling me to task.  I looked at her sheepishly**, already feeling busted for the crime of exuberance.  Then she stuck her lecturing finger out at me.  I’m thinking,  Uh-oh.  The ‘lecturing finger’!  I’m really in for it now.”  Then her words came out, slowly and deliberately, “Don’t. You. Ever. Stop. Playing.”  Shock…Escape…Vindication!  She went on to say we’re all too serious in life and a little bit of happiness should be pursued wherever you can find it.  I thanked her profusely and wished her a happy day.

It’s not going to be that hard…

Balance?  Yep, still working on it.  More so, I need to work on not giving a crap what others think.

…and just have fun.

*meaning they more or less understand me and how i relate to my job…more or less…