Years ago a client shared with me the title of the book he intended to write, Skipping to work. That idea has stayed with me since. I share it whenever I can with others (while always crediting my client with the concept), and aim for it myself.
What would life be like if we enjoyed our work so much that we skipped on the way to work, and not just on the way home? What would work be like if that’s how engaged we felt?
Is it a possible goal? Is it possible to feel so charged up about what I’m doing at work that I can’t wait to get there? That I look forward to it as one of the plusses in my life, not as the “thing I have to do so that I can do what I really want to do?” Is it possible? I think it is.
I think it is and I challenge our clients (and myself) to get there. I agree with my client that it’s preferable, and possible, to skip to work. In fact, we were recently facilitating a leadership retreat for a new client, and one of the principals of the company wanted to challenge his team to increase their engagement and “skipping.” He quoted Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, whose goal was to have his employees “bound up the stairs” on their way to work. Chouinard found that in the early days of Patagonia, people were bounding, but then he and the company somehow lost their way and the bounding lessened. Chouinard challenged himself to create an environment where people were bounding up the stairs again, just as our client challenged his team to help him create an environment where they all were so energized by their work that they too bounded up the stairs each morning to begin another day.
I do believe that skipping and bounding to work are possible, but it takes some concerted intention, determination, and effort to get to that place. In order to skip to work, we have to figure out what we love, so that we can find that fulfillment and engagement in our work. We might have to be brutally honest with ourselves, and others, about what turns us on about work, and what turns us off. Maybe we love the challenge of managing others, or maybe we want to be a sole contributor and to step off the leadership fast-track, even though we’re supposed to want to move up the promotion ladder. We might have to do some soul-searching to know our answer, and it might be uncomfortable to admit to others what works for us.
Maybe we’ll have no choice, for financial or other reasons, to stay in a job that is less than fulfilling. Then we have the ultimate challenge of finding a way to make the job we have one that works for us. Maybe we’ll find that engagement in connecting more with others. Or maybe we’ll find it through realizing the bigger purpose of the tasks we do each day. Or maybe we’ll create it by making our job fun. Read the book Fish, if you want to learn about making fun out of a potentially not-fun situation. Fish tells the story of the Seattle Pike Place fish market, where the workers have learned how to make standing all day, cutting up dead fish in ice lockers, and serving potentially less-than-ideal customers fun. If that job can be fun, perhaps any job can be fun.
Maybe we’ll have to put more of ourselves into our work or the company, or maybe we’ll realize we are in our job in order to make the money that allows us to do what we really want to do – and that in and of itself can yield us a grateful skip, for the ability to do what we love, even if it’s not our “day job.”
I agree with my client that “skipping to work” is a goal to aim for. Sometimes I pull it off, and sometimes I have to realize that I’ve shot far from the goal. And I then have to spend some Thoughtful time figuring out what would get me to skip again, and what I can and have to do to get there.
What makes you skip to work?
Please leave a comment.
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