This week I want to lift the bonnet or ‘hood’ for my U.S. based friends. One of the casualties of life exacerbated by the pandemic is the quiet erosion of joy. I have to confess it has happened to me of late. It was brought into sharp focus when I was asked ‘what do you enjoy doing?’ I honestly had no idea. Then the same question asked slightly differently – ‘what brought you joy this week?’ I faired better this time with a visit to see my 8-month-old grandson, having a cuddle with him definitely filled me with joy. Strangely I can’t exactly place when I lost my joy. Perhaps you can relate?
As I have reflected on the topic of joy, I realise many are struggling to enjoy work. Workforce engagement is at an all-time low. I think the pandemic has acted like a catalyst bringing to the surface many things you have managed to avoid and drown out with the noise of life. Lockdown brought those buried things into focus and shone a light on an underlying fatigue with life.
In the headlights
Shining a light on us is not a bad thing. You realise when you take a pause that some of the things you are doing are just not sustainable. Much of our joy is stolen when our uniqueness is ignored. I have just started reading Marcus Buckingham’s new book Love + Work. In it he notes: “… high school, college, work – are built in such a way as to distract your attention from your unique loves and loathes, and instead convince you that there’s nothing enduringly unique about you.”
I wrote my book “I See You,” because everyone is unique. When you are able to bring your uniqueness to your work, I believe you will enjoy more of your work and bring your best contribution as a result. To enjoy work you need to be heard. This is ultimately down to good leadership, recognising we all speak differently.
Leadership is challenging but not impossible and it maybe you have lost your joy as a leader.
There are lots of reasons why this happens – so my first piece of advice is: don’t beat yourself up over losing connection with your joy. However, joy gives meaning to our lives so you must reconnect with it and not feel guilty about experiencing joy in the midst of some dark stuff going on in the world.
The Significance of Joy
I found this written by Brené Brown helpful, I hope you do too:
“How can I play on this gorgeous beach with my family while there are people who have no home or safety? Why am I working so hard to decorate my son’s birthday cupcakes like cute little minions, when there are so many Syrian children starving to death? What difference do these stupid cupcakes really make?” Then I write, “They matter because joy matters. Whether you’re a full-time activist or a volunteer at your mosque or a local soup kitchen, most of us are showing up to ensure that people’s basic needs are met and their civil rights are upheld, but we’re also working to make sure that everyone gets to experience what brings meaning to life: love, belonging, and joy. These are essential irreducible needs for all of us, and we can’t give people what we don’t have; we can’t fight for what’s not in our hearts.”
Another way of putting this is you can’t give away what you don’t possess.
Let me ask you again what brings you a little joy?
Enjoy at its root is a French word. Literally it means to be in joy. As we approach Easter and perhaps spend time with family or take a day off or two make sure you connect with joy. If those you lead are to enjoy work, then as a leader you need to lead out of joy too.
If losing your connection with joy resonates why not book a discovery call with me here, to explore who you are and reconnect with joy again.