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Aeroplane; or, Business and Pleasure

I like pleasure spiked with pain
And music is my aeroplane
It’s my aeroplane
Songbird sweet and sour Jane
And music is my aeroplane
It’s my aeroplane

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Aeroplane

Spiked with pain

Your work must have something to do with pain. You eliminate pain points from your customers’ lives, or alleviate them, or simply help them to forget for a while.

There may be parts of your work that are pleasurable, but there will also be pain for you and your colleagues as you do your jobs: there may be hard physical work, or the pain of missed opportunities (including recreation), or the emotional labour of managing competing interests within your team while serving others. There will be work that is distasteful, or dirty, or boring.

There’s a mindset that says, “This is going to be hard whatever we do, but it needs to be done. Let’s not waste time. Let’s roll up our sleeves, grit our teeth and get it done.”

This approach is fine – is great – if you own the problem and the work at hand. By all means Get The Job Done.

But if participation is optional (especially if you’re asking people to pay) and people are not yet maximally invested, you’ll do well to look for the pleasure in the work too.

Ask: how can I make the hard work fun and pleasurable as part of the journey towards achieving what’s rewarding and worthwhile?

Some options:

  • You might find more fun and active ways to achieve your training goals
  • You might bring positivity, energy and encouragement that’s sorely needed
  • You might be funny and engaging as you serve
  • You might help people to take pride in what they do by reminding them that it’s important
  • You might bring delicious snacks
  • You might offer warmth and respect that’s usually lacking
  • You might transform the working environment
  • You might make the material utterly compelling
  • You might gradually build the delays between moments of gratification so that people learn that the work is worth it
  • You might pay attention to small details of design that make everything much easier
  • You might pay extra attention to celebrating key milestones
  • You might go out together after work
  • You might provide tools of such good quality that the impossible because merely difficult, and the difficult easy.

We’re not talking about mere entertainment, or pandering to laziness: frivolity for it’s own sake is usually best avoided. But fun aligned with your values and goals is far better than drudgery aligned with the same.

Fun adds energy, and reduces friction. It boosts morale, and makes it more likely that people will see things through, and more likely that they’ll come back.

1 thought on “Aeroplane; or, Business and Pleasure”

  1. Excellent stuff. really good. This really resonates as I work with volunteers – often very invested, but optionally so and not contractually obliged to grit their teeth. Keeping the ‘hard work fun and pleasurable as part of the journey towards achieving what’s rewarding and worthwhile’ is a great way of capturing this concept, and the suggestions are great. I have as key components of volunteering investment in people (hopefully fun and stimulating) as well as ‘paying’ in currencies such as affirmation and gratitude. I think celebrating milestones and investing in people as whole people is key. Anyway, consider the above digested and (if it’s ok) ‘borrowed’ 🙂

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