This post is part of the 📖 Nine Lies About Work series.
Today, I continue my reading where I left yesterday LIE #8: Work-life balance matters most chapter of the book Nine Lies About Work written by Authors Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall.
There are some big lies, distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking that we encounter every time we show up for work. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration, ultimately resulting in workplaces that are a pale shadow of what they could be.
By reading Nine Lies About Work, you can get past the lies and discover what’s real. These freethinking leaders recognize the power and beauty of our uniqueness. They know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom and that evidence is more powerful than dogma.
LIE #8: Work-life balance matters most
Whether we call it love-in-work or eudaimonia or anything else, the fact remains that work is called work for a reason, and your work is not only busy and sometimes repetitive but—more to the point—is not always of your own making.
The Mayo Clinic research reveals that love has a great deal to do with it. You can, and should, weave love into your work, no matter what role you’re in.
Here’s how to intentionally and responsibly weave love into your work.
Twice a year, spend a week in love with your work.
Select a regular week at work and take a pad around with you for the entire week.
Down the middle of this pad, draw a vertical line to make two columns, and write “Loved It” at the top of one column and “Loathed It” at the top of the other.*
During the week, any time you find yourself feeling one of the signs of love—before you do something, you actively look forward to it; while you’re doing it, time speeds up, and you find yourself in flow; after you’ve done it, there’s part of you looking forward to when you can do it again—scribble down exactly what that something was in the “Loved It” column.
Any time you find yourself feeling the inverse—before you do something, you procrastinate, perhaps handing it off to the new person because it will be “developmental”; while you do it, time drags on, and ten minutes feels like a hard-fought hour; and when you’re done with it, you hope you never have to do it again—scribble down exactly what that something was in the “Loathed It” column.
There’ll be plenty of activities in your week that don’t make either list, but if you spend a week in love with your work, by the end of the week, you will see a list of activities in your “Loved It” column that feel different to you than the rest of your work.
Think of these activities as your “red threads.” These red threads are the activities you love, and your challenge is to pinpoint them so you can ensure that, next week, you’ll be able to recreate them, refine them, and add to them.
You are weaving red threads into the fabric of your work, one thread at a time. Now, you do not have to end up with an entirely red quilt.
The Mayo Clinic researchers found that when the physicians spent more than 20 per cent of their time on activities they loved, there was no corresponding reduction in burnout risk.
The 20 per cent number was a threshold, which is to say that a bit of love goes a long way: when you can deliberately weave your red threads throughout the fabric of your work, you’ll feel stronger, perform better, and bounce back faster.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we will read a new chapter LIE #9: Leadership is a thing.
Only you, with discipline and intelligence and intention, can bring love into your work. The only person who can stop and be attentive enough to identify these threads, and weave them intelligently into the fabric of your work, is you.
If you build technical craft on a loveless foundation, you net only burnout because technical mastery absent love always equals burnout. Burnout isn’t the absence of balance but the absence of love.
LIE #1: People care which company they work for
We, as team members, want our team leader to make us feel part of something bigger, that he/she shows us how what we are doing together is important and meaningful. You as a team leader make us feel that you can see us, and connect to us, and care about us, and challenge us in a way that recognizes who we are as individuals.
LIE #2: The Best Plan Wins
It’s far better to coordinate your team’s efforts in real-time, relying heavily on each unique team member’s informed, detailed intelligence. You’ll have to sit down and survey your team members and make your plan.
The more frequently and predictably you check in with your people or meet with your team—the more you offer your real-time attention to the reality of their work—the more performance and engagement you will get.
It’s not true that the best plan wins. The best intelligence indeed wins.
LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals
We should unlock information through intelligence systems and cascade meaning through our expressed values, rituals, and stories.
We should let our people know what’s going on in the world and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to contribute.
They will invariably make better and more authentic decisions than those derived from any planning system that cascades goals from on high.
LIE #4: The best people are well-rounded
Best people are not well-rounded. They are distinctive. Well-roundedness is a misguided and futile objective for individual people, but it’s an absolute necessity for teams.
The well-rounded high performer is a creature of the theory world. However, each high performer is unique and distinct in the real world and excels precisely because that person has understood their uniqueness and cultivated it intelligently.
Competencies like Customer focus, innovation, growth orientation, agility are values to be shared, and they are not abilities to be measured.
Shift your thinking to outcomes where you’re asking individual team members to deliver to better match their distinctive talents.
LIE #5: People need feedback
People don’t need feedback. They need attention and attention to what they do the best. And they become more engaged and therefore more productive when we give it to them.
In the real world, each person’s strengths are the greatest opportunity for learning and growth. Time and attention devoted to contributing to these strengths intelligently will yield exponential return now and in the future.
Get into the conscious habit of looking for what’s going well for each of your team members.
LIE #6: People can reliably rate other people
There’s no reliable way to measure competencies that team members are supposed to possess in the real world. Human beings can never be trained to rate other human beings reliably.
We need to ask thorny questions like, “Do you turn to this team member when you want extraordinary results?”, “Would you promote this person today if you could?”, “Do you choose to work with this team member as much as you possibly can?”, “Do you think this person has a performance problem that you need to address immediately?”
LIE #7: People have potential
It’s not true that people have potential. Instead, the truth is that people have momentum. Encourage team leaders to discuss careers with their people in terms of momentum—in terms of who each team member is and how fast each is moving through the world.
LIE #8: Work-life balance matters most
Work-life balance is an unachievable goal in an ever-changing world.
If we want our people to flourish, if we want them to be creative and intrigued and generous and resilient, then we’ve got to help them find love in work.
Spend a week in love with your work. By the end of the week, you will see a list of activities that feel different to you from the rest of your work. Think of these activities as your “red threads.”
These red threads are the activities you love, and your challenge is to pinpoint them so you can ensure you’ll be able to recreate them, refine them, and add to them.
Hold tightly to your red threads. Yes, so you can blossom. But mostly so you can figure out ways to share what’s unique about you with the rest of us.
Author(s): Marcus Buckingham
Author(s): Ashley Goodall
Part 20 of 23 in the 📖 Nine Lies About Work book series.