“I am just busy,” “I could use a nap,” “I am so tired.”
Does any of these sound familiar to you? If yes, you belong to a very large group of working professionals who keep going every day despite all such feelings – it is like driving your car with low tire pressure. A 2017 article from Occupational Health and Safety said, 43% of Americans are too tired to function well at work. If it included the knowledge workers, it would have been much higher. And all these were before 2020. This year – the pandemic, the election, the social unrest, the forest fire, the blurred work-life boundary – we had it all.
What happens when you drive a car like that? The engine has to work extra hard to move the car forward, its performance goes down, and eventually, it causes a breakdown and/or a fatal accident. It shows up in low morale, lower performance, leading to burnout, physical sickness, etc for us. “Isn’t that what everyone else is doing?” my client Mark got impatient when I asked him about his energy level in a recent coaching session. Mark was a director at a global manufacturing firm in the Midwest.
Yes, it is the norm, unfortunately. As an EQ (Emotional Intelligence) practitioner, I often see that my clients have a low level of Joy in their profile (along with a few other areas of concern).
Joy is our emotional vitality. It gives us the much needed air in those tires so we don’t have to stress the engine – sense of responsibility and/or the brute force will power all the time.
People with a higher level of joy are usually excited and energized. They collaborate well with others, get their joy from everyday life, and keep them going.
Mark was pretty well-liked by his team, his peers, and his bosses. He was a happily married man in his mid-forties with two young children. He recently received a well-deserved promotion. It all looked perfect. As I asked about the promotion (assuming he would want to celebrate), he responded in a very low energy tone. “It’s ok,… same old, same old; I don’t feel much excitement inside me”.
“When was the last time you felt a genuine excitement?” I asked. After some struggle and a pause, he said, “I used to do woodwork with my Dad; it became my hobby as I grew older. When do woodwork, I forget everything; all I enjoy is the smell of wood and the joy of creating something with my hands”. That evening Mark got in touch with his sense of joy and recommitted himself to make time for woodwork at least once a week.
Dear Reader, you must be wondering how it solves the “problem” at work. Here is the interesting part.
When you integrate such self-care, joy giving activities in your life, you are having those good set of tires in your car. Since your engine is supported by the resilient tires, you are now ready to embrace all sorts of off road adventure. Can you imagine how that would look like at work and other areas of your life!