I was talking today to a nice person who cares a lot about the organisation I work for about how we are doing. We face some big challenges in the next few months, but I’m pretty confident we know what we need to do and we’ll be stronger for it.
She was anxious that we might not seize the opportunity, and that people and personalities might get in the way. I said after a good break in the summer I realised there are somethings you can’t fix or tackle until the moment comes and rather than worrying sometimes it’s best to save your energy and trust yourself to perform ‘in the moment’ and do what is needed when it’s needed. She looked at me with some empathy, but I suspect was also wondering ‘is he ducking some stuff here’.
I then said to her that since my excellent summer holidays with the family I’ve found myself caring a little less about my work. I still care, and I still work hard, but it’s a bit less all-consuming. I don’t think about things so much, worry about them or try to arrange and fix things – especially around people. I’ve started saying what my gut tells me, not worrying so much about being right, asking for help and admitting to uncertainty and irrationality. It’s working a treat.
She said she sometimes realises she’s guilty of curling – the game with the stones on ice where you polish and polish and polish the ice furiously with what looks like a garden brush to get your stone to the target. I said to her I’d felt she’d been really effective in a meeting with us recently when she ‘bowled’ and said exactly what she thought and cleaned out all the skittles or smacked clear the blocking bowls depending on your type of bowling.
The conclusion was sometimes by caring a bit less at work you can be a lot more effective, more spontaneous, less anxious, more authoritative, and more able to seize the moment. I find I also have a lot more mental energy left for me and my loved ones at the end of the day.
Here’s my quick list tapped out on the iPhone of problems I’m not currently suffering by caring a little less about my work:
Gripping too tightly
Focusing on what I might lose not what I could gain
Driving not attracting
Running down my batteries
Sweating the detail
Been seen to meddle
Taking the responsibility away from where it lies
Strobing (rapid jerky interventions with no linking narrative)
Appearing tricksy or political
Guessing not asking
Not seizing the moment
Best of all though I simply feel better and that’s reason enough.