Work “hard” and smile often…

I just left a meeting with my coach, Kim Knapp, and had another really insightful discussion, which caused me to think about something I say (often) and now I’m considering reworking it a bit. To share context, I’ve just gone through a 363 process and received the results today. For those who aren’t aware, the 360 degree feedback program is widely used in corporate America to help leaders assess where gaps might occur in their personal & leadership styles. The definition, 360, is tied to the “full circle” feedback you receive from a variety of inputs; your responses to the survey, your peer’s responses, your direct reports’ responses and a hand selected group of “other” participants.

All in, I had 9 people fill out a survey covering 8 leadership disciplines and I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I was quite nervous about the whole thing. After all, I’m prone to over thinking and I also carry a heaping helping of “wanting approval” in my life, so getting vulnerable enough to ask peers, employees and other members of the leadership team I sit on, to weigh into my world and offer their perspectives was freaking scary.

The results came back and although I have a number of “development” areas, it appears that the picture I hold of my self is pretty consistent with the picture my team holds of me. Overall, the development areas are very realistic and most important to me, my self rating, in most cases, was lower (on a scale) than those of my peers, employees and leadership counterparts, so I felt good about the process. My coach, the DISC-363 interpreter and I reviewed line by line and began to make a “plan” on how to continue focusing on the requests I received from the feedback. This was a very interesting exercise and one I’m working to implement with my current team because this version of the 360 (why it’s called 363) is tied to the extra 3 degrees. Psychologists, who statistically validated this tool, work with subject matter experts on 3 “development areas” attributed to all of your feedback, so in theory, it gives you a road map on the behaviors one might adjust to continue developing into a strong leader of people, process and general business.

My coach shared her excitement about the “coaching plan” and asked me what I thought. My response to her was; “I have to keep working hard and smiling, right?” Those two things have served me well over the last 17 years of my career, but when I said it, she got that “coachy” look on her face and asked why I felt like I had to work “hard”? I tried to justify the remarks and she went on to share her opinions about work. Shouldn’t it be effortless? Shouldn’t work and our personal lives be more effortless? After all, so many of us claim to want peace, serenity and calming energy in our lives, but yet, we tend to claim the need for hard work too. I, for one, want all that peace stuff, but I also claim that “working hard and keeping a good attitude” are the key drivers of success (bit of a contradiction).

We spoke for a few more moments and I fully understood her point. The idea of “working hard” needs to adjust. I won’t insinuate that productivity, family involvement, development of children, business results, business profits and the like aren’t still a focus in the world, but I am going to begin “allowing” things to happen in the world and to focus on working with “purpose”, not having to work “hard”. As she was walking me through the concept of “effortless”, I instantly thought of golf. How many times do we get on the tee, swing as hard as humanly possible and watch, with horror, as our golf ball travels 50 yards down the fairway and then hangs a hard right (uncontrollably) and lands in the woods. When we tee up, again, breathe a bit, slow things down; allow our swing to happen and become what some may define as “effortless”, that ball rips through the middle of the fairway…some 250 yards ahead of our woods bound first shot.

To my kids, my wife and my friends and work colleagues, please be patient with my attempts at being a “Zen Master” with work and home. I know it can be tough living and working with a Dalai Llama in training, but I’m going to focus on coaching you (and those around me) that my idea of “working hard” and “always smiling” needs to adjust a bit.

Let’s work with purpose, live with purpose, smile as often as we can and become a bit more “effortless”. I think it will bode well in all aspects of world.

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