Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Three Ways to Make Sure Work Gives You Butterflies

My eleven year old was called in to pitch his first baseball game - bases loaded, no outs and the team down by three runs. Terrified but determined he walked out to the pitcher's mound. I took one look at his face, my heart began to race and my stomach turned into a knot. His first three pitches were balls. And at that moment I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And so did he. The fourth pitch was a strike.

After the inning was over I was beaming along with my son. He made it through and was on his way to pitch many future games. After I caught my breath I couldn't help asking myself when was the last time I felt this rush. To my pleasant surprise it was during a workshop at the office earlier in the week.

Nervous, excited, unsure. Parenting may be the best job in the world, but its also the hardest. And yet, it reminds me everyday what I should expect from my professional life. The way I see it, we spend more than 2000 hours a year in the office - we deserve to feel a rush now and then.

Here are three ways I make sure work gives me butterflies.

1) Get outside your comfort zone - create invigorating projects that not only drive bottom line results, but challenge you to think in new ways. This could be joining a committee in another department where you don't know the ropes, attending networking events that stretch your connections, or simply volunteer to help a peer brainstorm.

2) Don't settle - budget constraints, complex priorities and never ending meetings can make it easier to simple accept mediocre results but it doesn't have to be that way. Need more time - say no to 10% of your meeting requests, need more dollars - seek partnerships, unsure about your authority - earn it by jumping in to help a peer.

3) Celebrate success big or small - the act of recognition gives you a natural motivator - just like it did for my son.

The love you feel for family can never fully be replicated professionally, but you can set yourself up to feel proud, excited and enthusiastic about your work - and you shouldn't settle for less. You'll be doing yourself, and your business a favor.


  1. I would like to add a fourth.

    4. Don't always choose the safe option.
    If you believe in a direction, don't take the safe option and follow your gut instincts.

    Always playing it safe leads to complacency. Complacency is death in the workplace.

  2. Johan,
    You make a very insightful suggestion. Without stretching ourselves we never grow. Thanks for adding to the discussion.