I had a wonderful day yesterday.
I was driven from my home along quiet country roads. The trees lining the roadside were bare of their leaves and you could see the lakes and mountains thru their bones. I arrived at a very contemporary hotel in another small town and was greated warmly by a manager who walked me thru the building where I saw lake views that were utterly beautiful.
I then spent 4 hours with some very interesting people and we did one of my favourite things – had challenging and interesting conversations. We had lunch by a fire and I was driven back thru the quietly beautiful landscape. A great day.
So – work or leisure folks?
I was facilitating a high level discussion on branding a county as a visitor destination. So, it’s work. Or is it?
Many, many years ago I did a Graduate Diploma in Recreation in West Australia (yeh, I’ve heard all the jokes – and no – we didn’t spend all our time ‘recreating’) and I read an article on leisure and recreation planning for communities. Most of the article was pretty dry but the opening paragraphs provided me with one of those ‘ah ha’ or santori (life changing) moments.
It said (and this was over 20 years ago) that for many people the boundary between work time and leisure time was blurred. I was in my mid twenties at the time and this kernel of an idea intriqued me and I went off into a kind of ‘if …what if’ reverie ….
If we view leisure as:
- freely chosen
- having a degree of autonomy
- providing a level of engagement to self/others
- engaging heart/mind/body/spirit
- doing your own thing
- feelings of passion,contentment, challenge, enthusisam
What if … I felt that way about the work I did for the rest of my life?
So, my path over the last 20 years or so has been jewelled with work that has felt like leisure – freely chosen, engaging, satisfying, rewarding and really challenging. I have said no to work that looked lucrative but just didn’t fit into my sense of leisure.
I realised early on in my work within organisations that me and organisations were not ‘best fit’ for the long haul. For me to realise the leisure sense in my work, I was going to have to run my own enterprises – and I do. And even in the tough times I have a sense of fun and deep satisfaction in what I do and the amazing people I work with. I learn so much and have been part of amazing projects and processes – and I get paid for it.
Another santori moment in my life that probably has helped me achieve the leisure perspective in my work happened when I was 30. I was reading a book by Victor Frankl. A man who was in the nazi concentration camps for many years. He wrote 2 sentences that transformed the way I view my life:-
Everything can be taken from you but one thing:
The last of the human freedoms… To choose your attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. V. Frankl 1959.
At 30, when I read that, a light didn’t just go off – I felt like my head and heart were going to explode. Up until that point I had (like most people) tended to place blame on others when things didn’t go right in my life. On the day I read that I decided to make his quote an essential part of the way I lived and viewed my life.
Now, it’s real easy to hold that attidude when the sun is shining , everyone is smiling at you and all is gliding happily along. The challenge in living any deeply held value or passion comes when the sun stops shining and you can’t find that pony in the stable full of dung.
A few years ago I had a year or so where money just seemed to not want to wander in to my life and every envelope had a window in it. I’m not pretending that the time wasn’t tough but I really saw it as a chance to practice what I damn well preach. I still enjoyed my work and I chose an attitude of calm and learning. I opened those windowed envelopes and did what I had to do to deal with them – I didn’t panic and I stayed calm for the 18 months it took to move back to some kind of abundance. I also took time to really reflect on the way I viewed money. On a bad day I would either declare a duvet day or literally decided to walk out my door and go find a friend of colleague who could use my time and energy – I focused outside of myself and on to others.
So, I choose to see and create my work as a form of leisure. I choose to see every encounter I have with old and new clients as having the potential for fun, learning, challenge, creativity and/or progress. I love going online and researching/reading about so many topics and ideas – and that enriches both my life and the value I can offer my clients.
And if all this enthusiasm and energy makes you grit you teeth or nod in agreement or think wistfully ‘she’s so lucky’ – take some time to think about what attitude you choose to bring to your life. What do you think you deserve and are capable of achieving.
Basically, I choose to be the woman I am, create the work I do and enjoy the people I connect with in a way that may seem TOO MUCH for some people. The alternative just seems too bleak to me – and the reality of my life (and how we define and construct reality is a topic for another time) is pretty damn good folks.
So, how would you make your work/life more of a leisure experience? Do you believe that you can choose your attitude no matter what the circumstances?