Joy isn't something we have to find. We don't have to search for it, or earn it, or wait for it. We just have to feel it when we can, and be kind to ourselves when we can't.
Joy has been on mind and my heart a lot lately. I was asked to present a workshop at the Governor's Distinguished Management Award event and the topic was Joy. I thought about joy. I read about joy. I even wrote a not so good Haiku about joy. By the time the day came (today!), I was ready.
During the workshop I shared three paths I've taken to joy:
1. Pay attention to what has your attention: we talked about the tendency to be so focused on what's wrong that we forget to celebrate what's right.
2. Embrace the pause: we talked about the "oh #$%!" moments when you say something and wish you could pull the words from the air and stuff them back in your mouth. The best way to prevent those moments is to pause - to give yourself a few seconds (minutes! hours! days!) so you don't say or do something you regret.
Then sh*t got real.
3. Sometimes surviving is enough: We talked about what to do when joy feels impossible. If we are blessed to be on this planet long enough, there will be suffering. There will be gut-wrenching, falling to the ground on your knees kind of suffering. There will be moments where even survival seems difficult, let alone feeling joyful.
How can we build workplaces full of trust so that in those moments when joy feels impossible, we are surrounded by people who care about us? How can we build systems and processes that aren't reliant on a single person so that if someone is out, the work carries on seamlessly?
I am fortunate to have had several of those workplaces in my career. And today I got to talk about one of them.
I shared my story of when joy felt impossible, after the loss of our darling baby. I shared how I wasn't sure that I could ever be "me" again and how kind and patient and gracious my boss was to me. I would go on to work for him for another eight years.
That's the power of leadership. While the number one reason people leave their jobs is because of their boss, I can tell you that the number one reason I stayed was because of mine.
Amy Leneker, MPA, is a joy-seeking, optimistic recovering perfectionist and the founder of Compass Consulting Team.