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Leadership Thought #332 – Lighten Up

April 5, 2012

Free Woman posing. Wearing White Dress Shirt Sitting on Window Stock Photo

Sometimes you need to lighten up.  Business leadership can’t be serious all the time or it will become exhausting.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time you had fun at work and genuinely enjoyed yourself?
  • Are you able to laugh at the absurd or ridiculous or do you take it all too seriously?
  • Can you let your guard down?
  • Do you enjoy the company of your colleagues or prefer to keep them at a distance?
  • Are people naturally drawn to you or do you feel isolated?
  • When you show up in the morning, do you feel optimistic and happy or tired and downtrodden?
  • Are you able to keep your work in a proper perspective?
  • Can you take most things in stride or are you easily frustrated?
  • Do you try to enjoy what you are doing or just consider it a job?
  • Can you lighten up the mood in a room or are you always ratcheting up the level of intensity?

I believe the answers to the questions listed above are important and make a dramatic difference to the quality of your work life.  I include myself in this observation when I state that far too many people take themselves and their work too seriously and need to lighten up.  As the saying goes, “it’s easy to be heavy, but hard to be light.”  Unless you make a conscious effort to enjoy your job and the people you are working with, it won’t happen.  The reality is that you can do excellent work and have fun doing it at the same time.  Most of our unhappiness at work is self-imposed.

If you put out positive vibes, then the universe will typically respond in kind.  I know this may sound a bit too “new age” for some of you, but have you ever noticed how smiles and laughter are infectious?  It’s uncanny how just one person can increase or suck all the energy out of a room with their mood and behavior.  I’ve regularly seen employees with average technical skills or abilities that have good people skills excel while their more talented colleagues struggle under the weight of their own social inadequacies.  Bottom line is that people work better with people they like and enjoy spending time with.

Most of us aren’t dealing with life and death issues on a regular basis – thank goodness.  I truly empathize with and pray for people who are in these situations. It must be a difficult burden to carry.   However, I’ve also noticed that they often use humor and a keen sense of camaraderie to get through it all.  When they get the chance, they find productive ways to blow off steam and have fun.   The rest of us, who deal with less life altering issues, may want to take a cue from them.  You should take your work and responsibilities seriously, but not so seriously that it makes you perpetually unhappy, creates unnecessary stress for you and others, or hinders your ability to form healthy productive relationships with your colleagues and co-workers.  Always remember that if everything is serious, then nothing truly is.  Lighten up a bit.  It will make life easier for you and those around you.