How Can You Have Fun While at Work?
The following is an excerpt from HABITS: Six Steps to the Art of Influence
“Can I speak to you for a minute? In the conference room.”
Bob was my boss’s boss. A second level manager. He was about 5 feet 7 inches tall, always wore a brownish suit, a solid tie with a crisp white shirt, and polished… wait for it… brown wing tips. He wore his hair in a classic side part long before Madmen made this popular look so popular. He was neat, clean and always drank Lipton iced tea with no sweetener. The perfect blend between Bill Murray and Dean Martin in his walk, demeanor and diction. Perpetually upbeat and funny. But not today and not right now.
When you’re in your twenties, you think you know everything about anything. I did. I had what I thought was an above average awareness about culture. I read TIME, NewsWeek, USA News and World Report, Reader’s Digest and about one book of non-fiction a month. Later, I would add reading one book a week. I thought information made me wise. Nope. It didn’t make me wise. It made me an smart-ass.
A little knowledge truly is a dangerous thing.
I was a handful to management and I’m surprised I wasn’t fired for insubordination. Still, I was a decent employee who could complete tasks quickly with little supervision and with few customer complaints, so I think they put up with me. But Bob was a grown man who was too decent to take my crap.
So he didn’t.
I followed Bob into the conference room. He closed the door behind me. “I’ll deny this conversation if you file a grievance,” he said with none of the pleasantness he normally displayed. The local telephone company was a union a shop and this interaction was way out of protocol. “Sit down,” he said. I did. Then he did me one of the biggest favors of my life. He spoke directly to me as a man and he put me in my place.
“You know, Octavio, you’re not under contract,” he said.
“You can go anytime you want. If you’re not happy, be brave enough to leave. Life’s too short to work at a place where you’re not happy.”
I was stunned. He turned to the door, but paused for one last shot.
“Take all the time you need, but do not leave this room until you have decided to stay or leave,” he said without looking at me.
He walked out, and I’ve never forgotten his advice.
I left that job and tried to find something better for me. But I could not for long time. Why? Because I was not a grateful person, and therefore I was essentially unhappy on the inside. I made the classic, common, chronic mistake of believing happiness is based on external circumstances instead inner character. What was the missing part of my character? Gratitude. I was not a grateful person.
Only happy people actually have fun. Wealth and money rarely have anything to do with having fun and experiencing happiness. No matter what we wear, where we work, what we drive, where we live or how much we weigh, we can learn to have fun and be happy.
Having fun is tied to happiness, and happiness is a choice.
From ancient Middle Eastern writers (For as one thinks in his heart, so is are they. —Proverbs 23.7) to US presidents (Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. —Abraham Lincoln*) happiness is seen as a choice.
People who know me know I’m not a Pollyanna, but I am generally happy. And it’s from learning to be grateful for everything—big or small. I’ve made “Be Grateful” one of my values and my desire is to pass this lesson on to others: Have Fun (or be happy) by learning to be grateful.
So if you’re not happy,
if you’re not having fun, change it.
Start with you.
Or at least happier.
And less of a smart-ass.
We are as happy as we choose to be.
So, while you work, play or pray… have fun.
*President Lincoln probably never said this, but it's often attributed to him and still true.