I’m delighted to share a guest post from my friend and client Ben Fanning who is releasing the digital version of his book, The “Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You…Without Quitting” on Amazon soon.
You might think it ironic that the author of “Escape from Cubicle Nation” would be eager to promote ideas that help people stay in their cubicles. But as Ben and I have discussed in many deep conversations, entrepreneurship is not for everyone, and for some people, making their current job work for them is the very best career strategy.
Take it away, Ben.
Maybe you’ve fantasized about quitting, but you’re not ready to give up your steady paycheck, 401k, or insurance?
There is a quit alternative. Transform your current job into a job you love by engaging with it’s full potential, marshaling the resources around you, and seizing the opportunities that are there for the taking.
The Puzzle of Fitting Together Your Personal and Professional Life
A great way to start transforming your current job is to begin integrating your work and personal life. Think of your life in both realms as a big puzzle, and you’re the one at the helm on the lookout for ways to fit these pieces together. It can be something as simple as moving your staff meetings to a more interesting location or going around the room and finding out how everyone’s weekend was before diving into the day’s business.
Just by bringing a personal side to the office, you’ll discover the job you love becomes even better.
What Happened When I Revealed my Secret Identity
I was freaking out. I’d been blogging under a secret identity while still in my corporate job. Now I was publishing my first article as “Ben Fanning” and sharing it on my company’s private LinkedIn group.
Until that moment, I’d kept my passion separate from my day job. I lost a lot of sleep that night, because I was nervous and because I was energized by sharing this personal side of myself with my coworkers.
The next day, no one at the office mentioned the article I’d shared. It was business as usual.
But when I got home, I found the article had generated hundreds of views. Apparently, no one was comfortable mentioning it to me directly at work, but I could see they’d read it.
I continued to post articles each week and, gradually, as weeks passed, people began to mention how they appreciated my perspective. That’s when I understood the importance of sharing this side of myself with my coworkers.
Many of my clients have benefited from this perspective. They report that taking the step toward work-life integration improved their motivation and relationships at work. One client started a lunch-and-learn program to share her passion for cooking with her coworkers. She prepared busy mom/dad recipe cards and food samples to share. Now other employees are bringing recipes to exchange, too.
Another employee started a monthly book club coffee to talk about books on leadership or career development, scheduled before the work day began. Another client passionate about fitness led a weight-loss challenge and got the company to sponsor the program.
How to Bring Yourself to the Office
I discovered incredible benefits when I brought all of Ben to the office: the gentle Ben who interacts with his daughter, the confident Ben who smashes a forehand on the tennis court, and the relaxed Ben from yoga class. Tackling difficult conversations and challenges all became much easier when I brought myself to the work. Best of all, I felt far less tired at the end of the work week.
Action: Sometimes a little momentum is enough to get started:
1. Think about that person at work with whom you’re having difficulty.
2. Consider whether you’re bringing your whole self to that conversation.
3. What else could you bring to that conversation? Attentiveness, passion, fun, humor, creativity?
4. When that little voice in your head says, “That won’t work for me at the office,” stop and ask, “Why not?”
5. Notice what happens.
After practicing, you’ll discover that you’re more effective and your day has more joy and more mojo.
Warning: This Might be Fun
Many of my clients are surprised to discover how much fun bringing your personal side to work can be.
• The consultant who discovers that his love of fly-fishing actually makes him more peaceful and mindful during this work day:
Richard started by placing fly-fishing photos in his office and on his screen saver to ease his mind when returning to his office after a difficult meeting. Showing this side of himself also helped his coworkers and direct reports connect with him in a different way.
• The marketing executive who discovers how her passion for cooking helps her develop deeper relationships at work that are more trusting:
Eve is a full-time working mom, passionate about preparing healthy food for her children despite her busy schedule. Instead of just attending another business lunch or happy hour, she shared her tips and recipes with her coworkers.
• The sales manager who finds that her love of improv and acting can make sales calls much more exciting and engaging:
Kara was sick of the no’s that she and her sales team faced daily. Every time she walked in the office, she felt like she was “checking her soul at the door.” She had a mantra: “Focus on results.” Although she got results, she felt she was doing so at the expense of her team’s morale and her sanity. Outside of work, she was light-hearted and playful, enjoying live music and performing improv, but she didn’t see how this side of herself fit in the workplace. She left her joyful side outside. In our work together, she experimented with bringing the fun-loving side of herself to work and discovered that doing so helped keep her and her team motivated and reduced stress when things got heated.
Blurring the lines between personal and professional can make your work day more authentic, more fun, and more motivating
Action: Try the “How was Your Weekend” test. One of the easiest ways to bring a personal side to work is to share a little bit about your life outside of work, and then ask someone else the question. Evaluate your beliefs and your comfort in bringing a personal side to work by asking this question.
Get Your FREE Digital Copy of The Quit Alternative!
This article is an excerpt adapted by Ben Fanning from his forthcoming book, The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting. Ben will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at http://benfanning.com/getnotified