I am accused, on occasion, of careening through life with a childlike view of circumstance.
I laugh in the face of missteps while taking most ventures on with a sense of daring, optimism and excitement. I see humor, vibrancy and mystery in most of what I choose to do. Unlike a child, however, I do get to choose much of what I do and the toys with which I play.
A psychiatrist friend of mine once clarified my dilemma, although he was speaking to another group and I happened to glom onto his pithiness: “Being childlike is o.k.,” he proclaimed. “But being childish is dysfunctional for an adult.”
There, I stand vindicated by a higher order of crazed professional.
“So what,” you proclaim, threatening to quit reading right here and now. So…this has to do with you and the spirit you possibly have lost. This has to do with most organizations that get so tight-assed [note; spell check has no suggestions here] about policy and procedure that they fail to see the wonder in just getting things done in a decent manner. So what? You may be the tightly wound little ball of string employees make fun of behind your back and maybe even enjoy giving you a little psychological bounce to now and then. That’s what.
How do we know? Your people talk to us. They tell us of watching you direct change with a “just do it” frustration. They tell us of having many ideas for helping to make work more productive, less frustrating and even fun that you don’t have time to hear. They tell us of your suspicion with flexiplace, working at home, and leading them from 1000 miles across the country. They tell us of meeting after meeting, conference call after conference call where you rail on about this and that and they go on mute and drift off disengaged in their own meeting. They tell us that you simply seem to have curled up in the managerial fetal position and given upon trying to lead people. They tell us the fun has gone out of a career they always thought would be their most engaging.
How do you know if that is you? First, most of us are honest enough to know deep in our hearts what we’ve given up on or when we’re coasting. Give yourself a little talk.
Second, many of us have been so busy on the treadmill of life’s demands that we’ve gone a bit blue. Look for something to re-kindle the “vibrant you” that people liked being around. Third, ask your most trusted employees, co-workers or companions. Ask them what you should stop doing that’s not helpful, continue doing that’s working, and start doing that would add value to both your lives. Fourth, if you are really down in the dumps and notice some dysfunctional behavior (be honest) or are getting feedback of such, get some help. A few hours with a psychologist is cheap. So is a physical checkup.
Whatever your category, we find a bunch of you this early into 2012 still struggling with one or more of the above truths about your vibrancy.
Here’s some reading you might enjoy and that can help you recapture that childlike excitement about the human condition:
- Barbara Kipfer, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About
- Lorna Catford and Michael Ray, The Path of the Everyday Hero
- Harold Kushner, Living a Life that Matters
- Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
- Gordon MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball
- Martin Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
- Angeles Arrien, Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life