What do Missy Higgins and Good Managers Have in Common?

Well Missy took a 5 year break from music because she’d “forgotten why I wanted to write music in the first place”. For her, losing the connection with her music and her purpose turned her passion into a business and a job.  For an artist and a musician that can be a hollow place to be.

Actually, it can be a hollow feeling for anyone to feel their joy and enthusiasm for what they do melting away.  Or worse, realise that it has gone completely and then to feel stuck or trapped.

Does that sound like anyone you know?

Are you a manager who has lost some (or all) of your passion and enthusiasm? Does working with people drain your energy rather than inspire you to be the best leader you can be?

Some people say that it is life’s greatest pleasure to work at what you love.  I say it is essential to love what you do – even if that is only part of what you do – otherwise it is a grind or a rut.

An old favourite phase of mine is

“The only difference between a rut and the grave is the depth”

Because when you get into a rut things lose their life and colour and passion.  It doesn’t really seem that far off being completely cut off from life itself.

Can you feel how that may happen?  Many people I meet for career guidance tell me they feel stuck or trapped.  Being a career advisor and manager coach means I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people – and the majority of those conversations relate to people who feel that their work is a j.o.b. (or just off broke).  Can you imagine how that comes across to people you work with?  When you feel frustrated and unhappy in your work it does come across to others, even if only in subtle ways.

And that is why I believe Missy has been very wise to take a break.  Her music is her passion.  Her music is enjoyed because she sings and plays and writes with passion.  If there were no passion where would the joy be – for her as a performer or for her audience?

I recall seeing a well known band perform live – there was no banter or interaction between the members, there were no smiles and no apparent enjoyment of the gig.  Some people say they are a great band because their sound is perfect on stage and in the studio.  For me, there was no passion and it was a technical display only. That is not why I wanted to see a band perform live.

Enough with the imagery about boredom and death! Although one final comment on the picture – how many people do you know who believe that if they work harder and longer than anyone else that they will reap the rewards?  And how many of those people subsequently get ill or suffer stress – especially if they are overlooked for a promotion.  The hardest working people in a company can be the least visible – think about the cleaners, the admin and support staff, those in back office jobs: they all work very hard and with little recognition.  Those of us in more customer facing roles work hard also yet our direct connection with customers usually provides us with some recognition.  Don’t fool yourself – working yourself into a grave may get you the Unknown headstone too – and that’s about  it.

Back to Missy – she clearly knows that you need to be true to yourself to be good at what you do.

Does that make sense to you?  It’s a pretty deep concept – happiness comes from being true to yourself.  Being good at what you do involves (usually) enjoying what you do – so that you’ll keep doing it – and therefore the more you do it the better you get.  This phenomena is also known as the 3 Ps – practice (creates) prefeence (increases) proficiency.  You (and I) practice what is preferred and that leads to proficiency. So we do what we like and then get better at it because we’ve practiced and then we develop an even stronger preference or liking for it.

Yes that’s why I work with lots of managers and people seeking career counselling because I enjoy it, which I hope makes me easier to work with and then get great results with people, and then I want to keep doing it because it helps people.

So to be really good at what you do you need to enjoy it.  Enjoyment comes from being true to yourself and knowing what you like.

Managers are the same – most of us become leaders or managers because we like people and think we can make a positive difference.

Now for my tough question – Why did you become a manager?

What were the reasons you signed up to lead people? Are you still doing it for those reasons or has your role become lost in the blur of budgets, reporting, deliverables, projects and problem solving?

If that notion cause you to feel sad, then I ask you this Is the despair or frustration that you feel, showing in your work and to your team?

If so – it is surely not how you want to be seen and remembered.  And now perhaps you are in a dilemma.  I love my company and my team (and let’s face it, the wages are probably a positive influence too) yet the job has lost some (or all) of it’s appeal for me.  Now what do I do?

Well you do not have to resign or quit!

I hope that is a relief.

Unless that is really what you want to do, and have been thinking about for some time – in which case I suggest have a chat with a career advisor and then do it if it is right for you! Very little is to be gained for making a rash decision, however the theme of this post is also that continuing to do something that makes you unhappy is also not a good thing.

My suggestion is to rediscover what it is that you love about what you do – why did you get started in the first place.  See if you can reconnect with that passion and enthusiasm. And then let it shine.

Personally, I have resigned from jobs before because there was no longer a fit between what the role/company required and what I love to do. And like Missy I knew that if I stayed in that role that all I’d be doing was being bad for my health, lowering the results I could achieve and leaving a less than brilliant impression of myself with people I worked with. To do my best I need to be in the right frame of mind – which comes when i do what I love.

One role that I resigned from was a head of learning and development, and it had lots of training/workshop facilitation, career advice with staff, skill and development planning with managers and some great projects as well.  It was my ideal role at the time. Well the company went into a consolidation period and wanted to do fairly standard training for about 12 months and then review whether they would resume the staff skill and career development aspect.

For me I did not want to be a contract manager for 12 months – that is not the type of work that really makes my heart sing.  I realise that there are people out there who love contract management and so I decided to resign from that job and let someone in who would really, passionately and diligently do what was required.

Now some folks would say that’s a pretty brave move and not something that just anyone could or should do.  We are all in different circumstances which need to be weighd up. It worked for me and I knew that I would not do myself or the job justice if I stayed.

My view is that your well being also needs to be weighed up.  If you work in a job you hate then it could well be eating you up from the inside. And maybe you would be better off doing something else.

Something you feel passion for. Something you enjoy. Something that helps you be a great person to work with. And makes you a happier person to be around outside of work.

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