Feb
20
 

Skipping to work, bounding up the stairs, and other signs we love our jobs

Skipping to work, bounding up the stairs, and other signs we love our jobs

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.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in skipping, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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What People Are Saying

Chanda   |   27 March 2018
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I absolutely love this article! I enjoyed it so much I read it to my husband. I want to skip to work every day! While I try to remain positive in all aspects of my life, I am human. Sometimes it might not be my most beautiful skip (especially when my toddler wakes up at 3 am and doesn’t want to go back to bed or there is a less than stellar project I am leading). However, I want to do what I love and leave a lasting legacy while doing it! I am going through some major changes in my career, but I am looking forward to it. My skip hasn’t been up to par for a long time, and I am ready to feel accomplished in what I do each day. While I love my leader, my peers, and my work, I am ready for a new adventure to use my potential to the fullest ability! I can’t say thank you enough for this post because I needed this to cross my email today as I’ve been in a funny stage of my life/career. In this very moment, I can’t wait to skip, leap, jump, gallop to the work I do each day. For the past three years, I’ve created a “word of the year”. This year it is -Bloom- which fits this year perfectly. This year is about finding my way and being open to transformation. Here’s to us all skipping and being fulfilled each day! Thanks again!

Robyn McLeod   |   02 April 2018
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Chanda, we are so grateful for your post. It made us all smile! I love your word of the year — Bloom. It speaks to renewal, growth, beauty, and the wonder of everything around us. We wish you the best in that pursuit!