Can Work be Fun?
I went to school for music education.
Now… why would anyone go to school for music ed? Because music is FUN, right? Because we Love what we do and want to have fun in our jobs forever. Because when you go into music ed, it’s to share that love and joy of music with the next generation. It’s FUN, right?
Until it’s not.
Don’t get me wrong. I still had moments of fun and joy in music school, usually with teammates and friends in performance. But the expectation was no longer to create something beautiful. It was to regurgitate a piece of music exactly the way someone else had interpreted it. Or to verify that music was academic.
My music education classes by the time I was a senior revolved a lot around not having fun with students. And this, I think, is a tremendous error.
I understand what my professors were trying to say. We were in the midst of a crisis in education, where a lot of teachers were having inappropriate relationships with students or fraternizing with students. But no one was teaching the difference between having FUN at work, and just partying.
It’s a Huge difference that I didn’t discover until a few years later.
I found myself as a twenty-two year old recent graduate in a classroom full of kids not much younger than me, and the message kept ringing in my ear to not have too much fun, or the kids would overtake the classroom and all hell would break loose.
I held a tight rein in the beginning. We regurgitated music. Rehearsal was not fun. I was not having fun. They were not having fun. I was not growing, and they were not growing.
It should not be a surprise that I lost some students.
A few years later, a light turned on for me. We were having a lesson related to the progression of popular music and its relationship to classical composers.
And it was fun.
The kids were smiling and participating. They GOT the lesson I was teaching. They didn’t forget that lesson. It suddenly dawned on me.
“If it’s not fun, they are not getting it.”
Now, why would we think working on a project in a professional environment would be any different?
When you are working on something with your team at work, what do you expect? Do you expect to have fun doing it? And what does that mean?
Some employers might think, like I did at 22, that if they are laughing and having too much “fun” that they are just fraternizing. Now I know that the best projects of my life feel fun. It does not mean we are not doing work… quite the contrary. Good work IS fun. Working with people on a project that matters IS fun.
- people feel included
- people are allowed to use their gifts for the good of the team
- people are allowed to express their thoughts and opinions
- it’s ok to laugh, especially at yourself
- you take off the pressure of being incredibly academic and focus on the product being really great
How does that change the atmosphere at work?
I think it changes everything. I think it changes how people feel about coming to work. I think it changes people’s loyalty level. I think it changes the quality of the work being done. I think it changes the project at hand completely.
I think it changes work, completely.
In case you missed it, there is evidence of this in some of the studies on engagement at work. Check out what Craig Clark recently wrote on this subject.
This is one topic that the team here at Momentum Consulting will be talking about and working on at our Annual Leadership Summit, coming up on February 14. I hope that you have gotten your ticket for this fantastic free event. If you have not and you are meaning to come, please reach out to your coach on the team or reply to this email. We would love to see you there.
Here to help;
Fundamental of the Week #10: KEEP THINGS FUN The problems that face us day to day at work are small compared to the challenges facing most of the world. Keep your perspective and don’t take things personally or yourself too seriously. Laugh every day with others.