After 30 years of consulting to organisations, developing leaders and coaching - there are a few core beliefs Jean has come to believe about what makes for a happy and successful working life.In this episode she introduces her top 11 ways to think about work to create a fulfilling work life.
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Hi, everyone. Welcome to Making Sense of Work. Work is my fascination. This Making Sense of Work podcast, in many ways, is all about my fascination with work. And I have a big birthday coming up. A very big one. And I think because of that, I've been thinking a lot about what I've come to learn about work. Work is so important in my life. It's a central feature of who I am. And I got thinking about what is it that I believe to be true about work? My thoughts about this have come through my own reflections, my own experience of work through all the coaching I've done, the leadership programs I've run, working in a team. And I've got 11 points I'm going to share with you today that I think are key to us having a happy and successful working life. Now, these are my 11 points and 11 is a bit of a strange number. So I'm imagining you've also got some thoughts about this, about what are the. Core beliefs you hold about how to have a successful and happy working life. And I'd love to hear from you via LinkedIn, what those thoughts are, what would you add to this list? Before we dive into this, if you'd like to be kept informed about our offerings. Either our coach training or our new upcoming offerings of women's coaching groups or online courses. You can hear about these via our newsletter and you can sign up at BaileyBalfour. com. A huge thank you also to those of you who have rated and reviewed the podcast. It's actually a really helpful way to help the podcast get out to more people. And so please continue to do this. If you've particularly enjoyed an episode, please share it with a friend or maybe share it on social media so that more people might benefit. So here's my 11 thoughts about work. The first is that we need to take responsibility. This might seem a strange place to start, but I believe that we have a choice about how we experience work and that we can take responsibility for this. For example, if I'm having a difficult time with my boss, instead of doing what feels so simple, which is to blame my boss for all that's going on. I can take some responsibility for working out what I can do. What options do I have for improving the relationship? What might be going on for them that I can help with? Or is there something about me that I could shift? Could I accept their humanity and lack of perfection and still get on with my job on a day to day basis? I could take responsibility for talking to them about what's happening and see if we can find a way forward. Now, of course, if it's really bad and I'm really miserable, instead of staying and being miserable, I can take responsibility for looking for another job. I think so often when we're in situations, we take the easy route, which is to complain and be miserable instead of perhaps the harder route, which is to make the changes. When I think about responsibility in my working life, it's mostly related to my attitude to work on any given day. I can sometimes, like most people, feel really overwhelmed or struggle with some parts of running a business like admin. Uh, like being on call a lot, however, I can also take responsibility for how I feel about this. I've talked in a previous episode about how acceptance of even difficult situations can change them. So in my case, I know I have to do admin. It's a part of everyone's job. I can see that and I can take responsibility for accepting it and not complaining or resisting. So for me. Taking responsibility is number one in helping us think about how to be happy and successful at work. Number two is that I can stop being a victim. This, of course, is a little bit linked to above and taking responsibility. But for some of us, it's very easy to fall into a victim mentality. Feeling hard done by, or this is difficult for me. The challenge for us is that when we're in victim, we move to blaming others, or we look for people to rescue us. And to really change a situation, we have to move from victim. And into a space of being able to change it when we're in the victim mode, we feel sorry for ourselves. So we might feel like a sort of, I don't know, passive aggressive compliant child. All right, then I'll do it sort of thing. Or we can be like a rebellious child. No, I'm not doing that. And the thing is that neither of those places serve us when we're stuck there. And we have a choice. We can see ourselves in the victim mindset and we can move it. We can stop blaming others or seeking rescue and we can say what's a mature adult response to this. This is an area of my life that I've really had to work on. I think I have a It's like natural victim mentality, but I know that when I move out of it, I actually feel more empowered. I see where my choices are and I feel better about myself because I'm functioning as an adult, not a naughty complaining child. Number three, relationships are everything, simply everything. I believe that all organizations are essentially relational. Even in a tech development team, they have to talk to each other to agree task assignment, code handover. And I think this is true for all of us. When work goes wrong, it's mostly because we didn't talk to each other enough or we didn't clarify roles or understand expectations. All work is done through relationships. And this means that for all of us, learning to build good working relationships is key. We don't have to be everybody's friend, but we do need to learn to listen, to be curious, to learn to influence others, to change our mind in relationship. We need to learn to see how we can work together well. So it's good for us to learn how to help others perform at their best. And it's good for us to think about how can I build relationships so that we can help our work to be done effectively. Number four. I believe our mindset matters as much as our competence. So let me give you an example. If I'm doing a presentation, I can be technically good at doing a presentation, but if my confidence or nerves get to me, then I won't perform as well. And it's as much about my ability to feel confident to manage my nerves as it is about technically being good. at doing a presentation. And those things sit in my mindset. They sit in my thought patterns and what I'm feeling. Or if I don't feel confident to tell my boss I'm ready for promotion, then I won't progress. And that's a mindset thing. That's about me working on my mindset to find the courage to talk to my boss about it. Or if I'm frightened for speaking up when I disagree with something. then valuable views that I hold may be overlooked. So our ability to focus on our mindset is really key because it's often the thing that's holding us back. The thoughts that we hold about ourselves, the patterns we're in, the stories we're in. Now, coaching and self help give us massive clues here on helping us to work on our mindset. And I believe that we can really change it. So taking our mindset seriously. At work as well as taking our competence seriously at work is really key. We can look at how we approach work so that we can have a different experience of it. Number five, self awareness is not negotiable. I believe that unless we're self aware, then it's really hard to both be as successful as we want to be, and also to be as happy as we want to be at work. So we have to hold a willingness to be curious about ourselves, about what really matters, and about what's working. And what's not working for us at work, we also need to be aware about the impact we're having on each other and how that is working or not working. The thing about self awareness is it's an ongoing task. I remember when I finished the first therapy I had, I was in my early thirties and I thought, great, that's it, I'm done. Fixed. Rest of my life. No problem. And of course it hasn't been like that. As we go into new experiences, as we grow in life, new things emerge in ourselves. So it's really an ongoing task. You know, I may think I'm self aware, then I'm promoted and suddenly I can't work out why this new role isn't working. And I maybe need to go into a personal. Curious inquiry to find out, or a new colleague joins the team and I'm triggered and we're not getting on. So I have to go back into this self inquiry to understand why I'm feeling so strongly and what I can do to repair the relationship. So self awareness is a lifelong journey. There's so much richness in it and we can all benefit from it. Number six, action also matters. So, as much as self awareness matters, so does movement. We need to take action and move. We need to identify what will help us in our career and work on it. Engaging and influencing networking and organizational politics would be areas I hear client. It's all the time, resist doing, except without those actions, it's actually really hard to progress and to get things done. We take responsibility for being aware of what we need to do and change in ourselves and then we need to change it. So if it is that I've noticed that I'm really triggered by certain types of people in the team, I have to take responsibility for learning how not to be triggered. I need to take action on it. We don't have to make these changes overnight, and particularly if they're personal changes, they do take a lot of time. We need to really work at them and keep working on them, but we do need to make those changes. And I love the idea from James Clear in Atomic Habits of making a 1 percent change. So making small changes, or Martha Beck talks about one degree turns. So what we're thinking is we need to take action We need to make small changes over time. So an example is if you're struggling to do networking, set a goal to have one coffee with one person each week, make a small change, take some action and move forward. Number seven, it's our career and we own it. Many years ago, people joined organizations and their managers and the organization looked after them. They helped them progress. They worked out what their career paths were, but really not now. Some organizations will do this, but mostly only for high potential talent. And I've seen high potential talent have experiences at work that have been not great for them. And they've had to come to a place of seeing that it was their career and they owned it. So even if you're high potential. So, we have to work out, identify what we want and how to get there. We need to take the responsibility for owning the career and going in the direction we want. So this might mean taking time, maybe once a month to review progress, the grants where we want to go, talking to mentors. Talking to our managers about upcoming opportunities, but really learning to act and not wait. Seeing it's my career. I need to take responsibility for it. So it does link back right to number one and two. I'm in the driving seat of my career. I'm responsible and I mustn't be a victim and feel like I'm not getting where I want to go. I need to take responsibility for getting where I want to go. Number eight, values impact us more than we imagine. One of the pieces of learning I've been doing over the past couple of years is something called ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. If you're interested, the book I recommend. All the time is the happiness trap by Russ Harris in this training. I've been reminded time and again, how our values are our guiding voice. And so often they're like the canary in the coal mine, like, tell us if we're in the right place. Or if we're in the wrong place, it doesn't matter if we're in the wrong place. Sometimes it just means we know where the misalignment is. Or if we understand our values, we know how to create a career path that helps us get good alignment with our values. Or we know where our triggers are, or we know where to get glimmers of happiness. So how well do you know what your values are? As I was preparing this, I was actually a bit provoked by this in a conversation I've had with somebody recently to revisit mine, to get clear on them again. So if you're not sure, there are plenty of tools available via Google or even chat GPT. I typed into chat GPT, how do I identify my values? And about 15 ideas come up. A few ideas were reflect on positive or negative life experiences and see what they tell you. Think about role models or leaders you admire. What is it about them? That's just a starter. Okay. Number nine, ambition has many forms and we need to understand ours. When you hear the word ambition, what do you imagine? For so many people, it implies a kind of mercenary climbing over people to get to the top. But ambition can mean so many different things. It can be about having an ambition to make a difference in the world. It can be an ambition to achieve a high standard in a new language. Or to become the go to person on risk, ambition doesn't have to mean reaching the top. Of course it can, and that is also a good and valid form of ambition, but I think it's good. And I love the idea of playing with ambition and what it means to me. Now, of course, ambition changes over time. So I think back to when I was 30, I wanted to reach the executive committee. I did, I got there and then thought, Oh, this isn't for me. Uh, and then I became ambitious about how I could take my work as a trainer, as a coach. And help people. And here I am. And I'm still pretty ambitious about that. But what does ambition mean to you when you hear it and you are honest with yourself? How would you describe it? Because I think there's a key there to us having a fulfilling working life. Number 10. Knowing your purpose matters, but not as much as knowing what you enjoy. I love and teach the idea of finding my purpose, but for some of us it's a bit elusive. For some people it's really clear, but for others it can be a bit hard to find. If I think about myself, I think my purpose actually is to teach. Some days I don't feel like teaching. So what if some days my purpose is to teach and others it's to lead or create or write a podcast? Because in so many ways, the things we enjoy may be our purpose. Maybe enjoying work. is a good enough purpose. So think about what you enjoy and see if you can do more of it and earn a living through this. If you're curious about this, go back and listen to episode 22 with Joanna Miller and hear her story about seeking joy in art after. Uh, corporate career. Finally, number 11. We have the power to change our story about work. We all come to our working lives with a story. I'm good at this. I'm not good at this. I should do this. I shouldn't do that. I'm introverted. I'm extroverted. I'm good at numbers. I can't be a leader. They're all stories that we learn to tell ourselves. And we can change the story. People do it all the time. I've seen doctors leave medicine and journalists become teachers. I've seen people change stories. We can decide to learn something new. We can embrace a growth mindset and bring about possibility and opportunity for our future. So if you're sitting in finance wishing you were writing poetry, it's your story. Go get it. In fact, if you're in finance, you can always do some accounting on the side and write poetry in the day, write your story, create it, choose it. You have the power to create and write your own story about work. So there's my 11 points at the moment. These are the things that I'm playing with and I'd love to hear from you, your views. So they are take responsibility. Stop being a victim. Relationships are everything. Mindset matters as much as our competence. Self awareness is not negotiable. Action matters. It's our career and we own it. Values impact us more than we imagine. Ambition has many forms. Knowing your purpose matters, but not as much as knowing what you enjoy. And we all have the power to change our story. I'd love to hear from you, as I said, about what you hold to be true about work. Please do share this via my LinkedIn profile or email me. And let's keep the conversation going about how we can be happy and successful at work.