Keep on Running

Keep on Running

Or in my case, walking. On November 27th I was encouraged to take part in #RWRunStreak, which is a simple challenge about taking exercise for a mile or more, each and every day until the New Year.

So far – I’ve walked over 60 miles and ridden my bicycle 22 miles. I’m enjoying the discipline of getting out into the fresh air every day, and I’m enjoying other things too. Saying good morning to people, having time to think about my work, becoming more aware of my posture and simply noticing what is around me too, is really enjoyable.

I often fit the exercise around other tasks I need to complete – Tuesday’s walk took me into town to get a few supplies for a workshop I’m facilitating tomorrow, and the previous day I walked 6 miles over an hour and a half to get to a meeting.

There are a few friends along for this journey too, and though we’re thousands of miles apart, its been fun keeping in touch via social media to motivate one another. I asked my fellow challengers how they are feeling so far, and here’s what they said:

Dominique Rodgers: Yesterday I walked to the courthouse (by mistake) and then city hall for a passport. The most challenging and rewarding part of this, for me, is figuring out how to fit a walk into the jumbled puzzle of my day. It’s been fun and everyone’s encouragement has definitely helped.

Broc Edwards: Doug, Dominique, and John (and, obviously everyone else one this public forum) – I’m enjoying it a lot too. Prior to the challenge, I ran/biked, at most, 2 out of 3 days. Having the commitment means getting a bit creative, sometimes accepting that a day’s run will be less than normal, going for a run when I don’t otherwise feel like it, or fitting it in at an odd time. Because of all that it’s a great experience and has taught me so much about where I was holding back or making excuses or just being sluggish. And, yes, seeing what others are doing, hearing about their experiences is encouraging and inspiring and really eliminates my excuses.

John Hudson: Great job, Doug! It has been great having all 3 of you along on this little journey. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it this year, but decided to give it a shot. Now, we are so close to the finish! I hope to keep this going, to some extent, in 2015.

Broc: That’s the challenge, isn’t it John? Easier to do when it’s a short term commitment vs rest of your life. Daily isn’t 100% realistic, but when the timeline is open ended, it’s too easy to put off to another day.

John: Absolutely, Broc! I like having the goals and then the team surrounding me for support and accountability.

I’m enjoying weaving this exercise into the #100HappyDays challenge – they support each other nicely at times. I think what I’m trying to do here is make wellbeing a habit, which is in turn, improving my work. Thanks to John Hudson for encouraging me to start this journey, and to Dominique Rodgers and Broc Edwards too for coming along. Keep it going folks.

In case you missed it – for every pack of Stop Doing Dumb Things ordered in December I’m making a small donation to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. If you’ve been meaning to order some cards for yourself or as a gift to others, now might be a good time? Thanks for your support.

What Brings You Joy?

As questions go – at first glance this seems an unusual one to ask people at work, at least it does to me. We often refrain from linking such expressive language to the person in the workplace, for example it might be alright to talk about how much you love:

  • Your job
  • This latest app
  • Those shoes

But dare to express love for another person, and you can imagine that the next steps of that conversation will involve a stern talking to from HR. Maybe the L word is a bridge too far for work, so for the time being I will retreat to the comparatively safer territory of joy.

What Brings You Joy?

I’ve wanted to ask this question of people more and more lately, and occasionally I’ve managed to ask it out loud, though it’s usually followed immediately by something more tepid like ‘You know, what do you like to do?’ No sooner have I uttered the question than I’m withdrawing to what I perceive to be a safer (more boring?) place. A few days ago I was facilitating a group of people gathered from across the world, and my brief was simple. Help this group get to know each other better and encourage them to work in teams. In under two hours. I had initially thought we might play ‘What’s My Thing?’ but as I stood with this group of enthusiastic people, I decided to go a little further.

Draw for the Bin

After an initial exploration of drawing for the bin, instead of playing What’s My Thing? I invited the group to explore ‘What Brings You Joy?’ I did not seek to explain the question any further. In small groups, people talked about the question, illustrated the question and then told stories about their responses to the question.

This flipagram slideshow is a very brief look at what the group cocreated. I hope it conveys a hint of the energy, enthusiasm and yes, the joy in the room. After the session the group decided to mount all the pictures at their global HQ and send copies out to whoever in the group wanted them.

I’m glad I got past my own reluctance about using the word joy in a work context as it’s very often these little tweaks that make the big differences. What is it you really want to ask people and how might you frame it in a way that elicits a more engaged, useful and human response?


Keep It Simple

I doubt myself sometimes, and I know from experience that you do too. It’s OK, no one is listening – this is just between you and me. My own doubt is partly driven by the fact that I believe so many of the things we need to do to make work better are so utterly simple, that when I think them, let alone propose them, they, and therefore me, seem somehow ridiculous.

I believe we work better together. Some of the things that help us do this are:

  • Giving, building and having trust
  • Noticing ourselves
  • Noticing one another
  • Getting to know ourselves better
  • Getting to know each other better
  • Keeping things simple wherever possible
  • Accepting that small things can and do make big differences
  • Having open access to information, which means we can cocreate power with each other, not exercise power over one another
  • Recognising that creativity is not binary. You don’t just switch it on, you adjust the dials and tease it out. Don’t fear it, play with it, iterate.
  • Having meaningful conversations
  • Taking breaks
  • Finding out what brings joy to one another, and then – try to cocreate the conditions to make that happen
  • Agreeing that respect is not a zero sum game. I want to lift you at the same time as you lift me, or put another way, my success is not dependent on putting you down.
  • Being coactive – that is to say doing things with, for and by each other, not to each other
  • Smiling
  • Practicing – our work is our art

That’s enough for now. Oh, and one more thing. Don’t forget to doubt yourself from time to time:


Footnote #1

Thanks Sharon, Julia, Meg, Gareth, John and Richard for a crescendo of compelling conversation yesterday. I’ve had this post in draft for months and you all helped contribute and free it up.

Footnote #2

For every pack of Stop Doing Dumb Things ordered in December I’m making a small donation to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. If you’ve been meaning to order some cards for yourself or as a gift to others, now might be a good time? Thanks for your support.